HOPKINS, David - Modernism in Retreat: Minimalist Aesthetics and Beyond (1)

Today we will begin a journey into Minimalism and as a map (or, to be more modern, GPS... or modern still, GLONASS) we will use the chapter "Modernism in Retreat: Minimalist Aesthetics and Beyond" from the book "After Modern Art: 1945-2000" by David Hopkins.

First of all, what is Minimalism? To put it as clear and simple as possible, if you manage to create something by expressing only its essence, without any additional elements, you have made yourself a minimalist work of art. I will distance myself from the article a little, but this concept is actually not that new and while the reasons may vary, people at various times in history tried to remove unnecessary ornaments, art, like anything else, is cyclical.

Ad Reinhardt - Abstract Painting, No. 6 - 1960/61
Coming back to the book, Hopkins starts with "the non-relational" and speaks about Reinhardt, Stella and Judd. Ad Reinhardt is actually considered an abstract expressionist but during the final decade of his life, more exactly between 1955 and 1967, he created a series of "black" paintings. The idea was that compositional incidents needed to be removed, this led him to create the monochromes. He was also interested in mysticism. Stella Frank is one of the front-line minimalist artists "deduced the internal logic of paintings such as 'Die Fahne Hoch' from their nature as objects". It may seem that he prefers a minimal use of rationalism in art. Just to spice things up a little, some people have been of the opinion that his works "encode a fascination with fascistic forms of domination" while others see in them only the darker side of New York, I tend to agree with both statements. Hopkins goes on to point out the obvious by stating that the American art environment of the time was more interested in promoting the "brands" and making money. Donald Judd was thinking much like Stella, both of them priding with the fact that their works were non-relational, "this meant they were structurally self-evident and pragmatically ordered according to a principle of 'one thing after another', thereby shaking off the fussy 'relational' characteristics of much previous art" (as Hopkins puts it).

Stella Frank - The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, II - 1959
In the second part of this segment, "Minimalism and anti-rationalism" is discussed. He mentions a 1965 essay by the British philosopher Richard Wollheim from which the tag "minimalist" was derived, his ideas were nonetheless not accepted by the artists themselves. Judd's ordering system was anti-rationalist "because the logic of 'one thing after another' obviated the need for aesthetic decisions". Sol LeWitt also tried to undermine rationality while in the same time presenting himself as one of the first practitioners of Conceptual Art in articles from 1967 and 1969. "The idea becomes a machine that makes the art".

Download it here. Thanks to Ubuntu One.
Keep knowledge free and curiosity everlasting.

Additional links:
Poul Webb Art Blog - Ad Reinhardt
Siong Chin - Frank Stella

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