Ism number four – Minimalism

Definition – Minimalism

Less is more. Minimalism is a movement in art (and music) whereby eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts reveals the essence of an object. Minimalism is where the simplest and fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect. Artists who subscribe to the Minimalist movement reduce art to the minimum number of colours, shapes, lines and textures.

Minimalism in art emerged in New York in the 1960s as artists moved towards looking at geometric abstraction. Emphasizing an anonymity over the intense expressivism of the generation that came before, the Minimalists wanted to avoid metaphorical associations and symbolism.

Key Artists

Frank Stella – Stella described the picture as ‘a flat surface with paint on it – nothing more’. In the 1960s he began to create works which emphasized the picture-as-object, rather than the picture as a representation of something.

The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, II

Dan Flavin – Flavin was an American artist famous for creating sculptural objects and installations from fluorescent light fixtures. His aim was for his artwork to possess a straightforward simplicity on the one hand and a deep sophistication on the other.

Who left the light on?

Sol LeWitt – LeWitt is regarded as a Conceptual artist as well as a Minimalist artist. His amazing two and three-dimensional work ranges from wall drawings to works on paper extending to structures in the form of towers, pyramids, geometric forms, and progressions. These works may be gallery-sized installations or outdoor pieces.

Swirly walls

John McCracken – McCracken is critically acclaimed for his monochromatic sculptures that explore the purity of colour and form. In addition they question the relationship between sculpted objects and their surrounding spaces. He is particularly known for his self-titled Planks, monochrome slabs made from wood, canvas, and steel that are often displayed projecting from a wall.

Colourful planks – the art of the less

One Key Work

I found it quite hard to find one key Minimalist work of art so I picked something that I liked after a spot of browsing on the subject. This is one of more than 50 large-scale sculptures created by Tony Smith, who is known as a Minimalist sculptor. Their distinct black finish and geometric forms represent one of the most significant achievements in American sculpture, and Smith’s unique vision has proven enormously influential on subsequent generations.

Drama created through simplicity


The Art Story, [last accessed 13 November 2012]

Wikipedia on Frank Stella, [last accessed 13 November 2012]

Wikipedia’s list of artists, [last accessed 13 November 2012]

Artnet, [last accessed 13 November 2012]

Wikipedia on Tony Smith

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