Visit our Community Pages Please support our work

The Art Story.org - Your Guide to Modern Art

Movements Artists Timelines Ideas Blog
Movements Minimalism

Minimalism

Started: Early 1960s

Ended: Late 1960s

Quotes

"When words such as painting and sculpture are used, they connote a whole tradition and imply a consequent acceptance of this tradition, thus placing limitations on the artist who would be reluctant to make art that goes beyond the limitations."
Sol LeWitt
"A shape, a volume, a color, a surface is something itself. It shouldn't be concealed as part of a fairly different whole."
Donald Judd
"As I have said many times, for me an artist is a person who says he's an artist, and an artwork is what an artist says is an artwork."
Carl Andre
"Making art is complicated because the categories are always changing. You just have to make your own art, and whatever categories it falls into will come later."
Frank Stella
"I consider space to be a material. The articulation of space has come to take precedence over other concerns. I attempt to use sculptural form to make space distinct."
Richard Serra
"There's information and there's the object; there's the sensing of it; there's the thinking that connects to process. It's on different levels. And I like using those different levels."
Robert Morriss
"The steel and the space, or the object and the void, become one and the same."
Richard Serra
"I like art as thought better than art as work. I've always maintained this. It's important to me that I don't get my hands dirty. It's not because I'm instinctively lazy. It's a declaration: art is thought."
Dan Flavin

KEY ARTISTS

Carl Andre Carl Andre
Quick View
Carl Andre Page
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dan Flavin Dan Flavin
Quick View
Dan Flavin Page
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Robert Irwin Robert Irwin
Quick View
Further External Info
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Donald Judd Donald Judd
Quick View
Donald Judd Page
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Kenneth Noland Kenneth Noland
Quick View
Kenneth Noland Page
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Richard Serra Richard Serra
Quick View
Richard Serra Page
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Frank Stella Frank Stella
Quick View
Frank Stella Page
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Sol LeWitt Sol LeWitt
Quick View
Sol LeWitt Page
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Agnes Martin Agnes Martin
Quick View
Further External Info
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Robert Morris Robert Morris
Quick View
Robert Morris Page
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"A work of art needs only to be interesting."

Synopsis

Minimalism emerged in New York in the early 1960s among artists who were self-consciously renouncing recent art they thought had become stale and academic: its originality was depleted. A wave of new influences and rediscovered styles led younger artists to question conventional boundaries between various media. The new art favored the cool over the "dramatic": their sculptures were frequently fabricated from industrial materials and emphasized anonymity over the expressive excess of Abstract Expressionism. Painters and sculptors avoided overt symbolism and emotional content, but instead called attention to the materiality of the works. By the end of the 1970s, Minimalism had triumphed in America and Europe through a combination of forces including museum curators, art dealers, and publications, plus new systems of private and government patronage. And members of a new movement, Post-Minimalism, were already challenging its authority and were thus a testament to how important Minimalism itself became.

Key Ideas

Minimalists distanced themselves from the Abstract Expressionists by removing suggestions of biography from their art or, indeed, metaphors of any kind. This denial of expression coupled with an interest in making objects that avoided the appearance of fine art led to the creation of sleek, geometric works that purposefully and radically eschew conventional aesthetic appeal.
The post-Sputnik era revived active interest in Russian Constructivism. The Constructivist approach led to the use of modular fabrication and industrial materials in preference to the craft techniques of traditional sculpture. The readymades of Marcel Duchamp were also inspirational examples of the employment of prefabricated materials. Based on these sources, Minimalists created works that resembled factory-built commodities and upended traditional definitions of art whose meaning was tied to a narrative or to the artist.
The use of prefabricated industrial materials and simple, often repeated geometric forms together with the emphasis placed on the physical space occupied by the artwork led to some works that forced the viewer to confront the arrangement and scale of the forms. Viewers also were led to experience qualities of weight, height, gravity, agility or even the appearance of light as a material presence. They were often faced with artworks that demanded a physical as well as a visual response.
Minimalists sought to breakdown traditional notions of sculpture and to erase distinctions between painting and sculpture. In particular, they rejected the formalist dogma espoused by the critic Clement Greenberg that placed limitations on the art of painting and privileged artists who seemed to paint under his direction. The Minimalists' more democratic point of view was set out in writings as well as exhibitions by their leaders Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, and Robert Morris.

Most Important Art

Die (1962)
Artist: Tony Smith
The artist's specifications for the sculpture were as follows: "a six-foot cube of quarter-inch hot-rolled steel with diagonal internal bracing." The dimensions were determined, according to Tony Smith, by the proportions of the human body. Smith explained that a larger scale would have endowed Die with the stature of a "monument," while a smaller one would have reduced it to a mere "object." Weighing approximately 500 pounds and resting on the museum floor, the sculpture invites us to walk around it and experience it sequentially, one or two sides at a time. Like other examples of Minimalism, its unreadable surface and frank lack of visual appeal come across as almost hostile in its undermining of traditional understandings of art as something aesthetically or emotionally appealing, showing the artist's rejection of Abstraction Expressionism's hands-on approach to art making.
The sculpture's deceptively simple title invites multiple associations: it alludes to die casting, to one of a pair of dice, and, ultimately, to death. As Smith remarked, "Six feet has a suggestion of being cooked. Six foot box. Six foot under." Rationality, evoked by Die's purely geometric configuration, is countered by the sculpture's brooding presence. Meaning becomes relative rather than absolute, something generated through the interplay of word and object. Weaving together strains of architecture, industrial manufacture, and the found object, Smith radically transformed the way sculpture could look, how it could be made, and, ultimately, how it could be understood.
Steel - National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
More Art Works


By submitting above you agree to the ArtStory privacy policy.
Like The Art Story on Facebook

Beginnings

Early Modernist Inspirations

In New York City in the mid 1950s, young artists like Donald Judd, Robert Morris, and Dan Flavin were painting in the dominant Abstract Expressionist vein but were drifting from it toward new directions inspired by a freshened knowledge of recent European art. Works by members of the Dutch De Stijl group, the Russian Constructivists, and the German Bauhaus were shown in New York City museums and galleries. All three groups had pioneered new definitions of the visual arts by going far beyond traditional painting and sculpture.

Piet Mondrian, a central proponent of De Stijl, adopted pure abstraction and promoted a dynamic tension across the canvas surface and emphasized the flatness of the picture plane. No longer would a painting pretend to be a window to another world. The Homage to the Square paintings (1949-76) of Josef Albers, a former teacher at the Bauhaus, used arrangements of squares within squares in which pictorial depth was an illusion based on color contrasts of the squares. Vladimir Tatlin led the creation of a new art in Russia that would synthesize art and technology in the Machine Age that had come to his country. A utopian idealist more than a revolutionary, he wanted to bring art to the service of everyday life.

Among sculptors, the Romanian Constantin Brancusi was also a proto-Minimalist. His The Endless Column (1935), a tower of identical rhomboid shapes pointing to infinity represented his cosmic spiritual beliefs and aspirations for his art by demonstrating how simple shapes in multiples could extend ideas of form in space. And Marcel Duchamp's career would lead to a redefinition of the artist's persona and relationship to art making. With sophisticated wit he condemned the "retinal pleasures" of painting and within his practice combined painting, kinetic and static sculpture, photography, and film.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Art at Mid-Century: Late Modernism

These early influences gave artists the opportunity to reassess the Surrealist-influenced world of Abstract Expressionism defined by intuitive and spontaneous gestures that had been dominant in American art for almost two decades, largely because of the critical support of writers such as Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg. In contrast to the more expressionistic painters, the artists Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman emphasized the power of color and simplicity of design within the canvas field. Dubbed a Color Field painter, Rothko laid broad bands of color horizontally across the canvas while Newman discovered the skinny vertical zip motifs that divided his fields into zones of flat painted color. In each case the viewer became absorbed in the atmosphere of these large-scale works. Their more radical compatriot Ad Reinhardt painted solid fields of monochromatic red or black that banished all but the most subtle evidence of an artist's involvement in the work. Active as a writer, critic, and educator, he famously said, "My paintings are the last paintings one can make," and thereby endeared himself to the next generation of creators.

The artists who became Minimalists wanted instead to produce an art that was less personal and more substantial, believing that a work of art should not refer to anything other than itself. Thus by the early 1960s, many of these artists had abandoned painting altogether in favor of objects that seemed neither painting nor sculpture in the conventional sense. For example, Frank Stella's Black Paintings (1958-60), a series of hugely influential, concentrically striped canvases were stretched on a thicker wooden chassis that thrust them out from the wall aggressively. This support emphasized the materiality and objecthood of paintings that were clearly abstractions, lacked evidence of brushwork, and achieved a state of flatness that was exemplary to others. Stella's paintings extended the possibilities of painting beyond simple rectangles to be framed (which they weren't) and hung on a wall as ornament. His works instead assumed physical characteristics of both architecture and sculpture that contradicted all previous examples of painting.

Stella's achievement was echoed in the work of other abstract artists who were making large paintings that seemed to be based on geometric theorems. Kenneth Noland, who pursued Josef Albers's theories on the "interaction of colors," painted large abstract canvases that featured targets, chevrons, and striped patterns. Robert Mangold's monochromatic free-standing constructions were also affected by the prevalence of geometric abstraction that Albers had introduced.

The Start of Minimalism and Conceptual Art

In the next generation there were many theorists who became important spokespersons for the movements of both Minimal and Conceptual art, a contemporaneous style. These artists and writers helped determine the aesthetics and the critical reception of both styles.

Donald Judd's "Specific Objects," published in 1965, attempted to establish the aesthetics of Minimalism. He in fact rejected the name "Minimalism" to characterize the art, favoring instead the term "specific objects," which he described as rejecting traditional distinctions between art forms to embrace works that were not easily labeled as either painting or sculpture.

Robert Morris wrote the three-part "Notes on Sculptures" in 1966, in which he called for the use of simple forms that could be grasped intuitively by the viewer and argued that the interpretation of Minimalist works was dependent on the context and conditions in which they were perceived. In making this argument he was essentially upending the notion of the artwork as having an inherent meaning - derived from the artist - that was independent of the viewer.

Sol LeWitt contributed to the development of both movements. He published, "Paragraphs on Conceptual Art"(1967) (considered by many to be the movement's manifesto), in which he wrote: "What the work of art looks like isn't too important. It has to look like something if it has physical form. No matter what form it may finally have it must begin with an idea. It is the process of conception and realization with which the artist is concerned." For 40 years until his death in 2007, LeWitt worked internationally as a sculptor, painter, and photographer and was the leader of the Minimalist artists after the deaths of Flavin and Judd.

Carl Andre published poetry that had both literary and visual appeal, the latter created by the artistic shaping of the text of the poem as if the words were a solid medium. These poems were an integral part of Andre's exhibitions, where they sometimes appeared in catalogue entries or next to his sculptures.

Joseph Kosuth's One and Three Chairs (1965) is a Conceptual milestone in which he assembled an object, a photograph of that object, and an enlarged dictionary definition of the object for a gallery exhibition. It questions what actually constitutes a chair in our thinking: is it the solid object we see and use or is it the word "chair" that we use to identify it and communicate it to others?

As a result of all these theoretical underpinings, the Minimalism movement found the setting to expand.

The Title of the Movement

From this multitude of sources the artists who became known as Minimalists plotted the new strategies that informed their projects and processes. Many names were floated to characterize this new art: "A.B.C. art," "Reductive Art," "literalism," "systemic painting," and "Art of the Real." "Minimalism" was the term that eventually stuck, perhaps because it best described the way the artists reduced art to the minimum number of colors, shapes, lines, and textures. Minimalism was also an accepted critical term in contemporary dance and music which, like the visual arts, was being stripped of ornament, used repetitive motifs, and found its settings in everyday, urban life rather than myths and legends of the past.

The Primary Structures Exhibition

The 1966 exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York was a major event that attracted critical attention and established Minimalism as a significant force in the art world. The show included works by many of those who were important to the movement, including Sol LeWitt, Dan Flavin, Robert Morris, Carl Andre, and Donald Judd as well as some artists who were on its fringes, such as Ellsworth Kelly and Anthony Caro - over forty artists in total. Exhibitions like Primary Structures were accompanied by publications and critical reviews that advanced and broadened the discourse over both Minimalism and Conceptual art.

A New Art for New Spaces

In the 1960s and 1970s new exhibition spaces were opening in Europe and America. Traditional museums expanded their gallery facilities and new "kunsthalles," exhibition facilities without permanent collections, were created. The role of university galleries and museums was also expanded. Artist-run cooperative galleries like Artists Space in New York were emulated elsewhere. Typically these galleries took over large rough spaces that were frequently "laboratories" where Minimal and Conceptual artists tried out their work. By the 1970s there was a true boom in public art that brought Minimalist sculptors national recognition. State and local agencies established public sculpture parks where Minimalist sculpture flourished.

The new publication Artforum was started in California in 1962 relocated to New York City in 1967. Through several editorships the magazine developed and was by 1971 the trade journal for Minimalist and Conceptual art. In addition to reviews, it published work submitted by artists as well as the most thoughtful commentary on contemporary art.

Concepts and Styles

Minimalist Sculpture

Most Minimalists were focused on creating three-dimensional objects, as this was the most radical and experimental facet of the movement. The Minimalists' emphasis on eradicating signs of authorship from their art by using simple, geometric forms and industrial materials led to works that resembled simple objects rather than traditional sculpture. The innovative placement of these works on the floor of gallery spaces rather than on pedestals further underscored their difference from conventional works of art.

The focus on surface and the artist's absence meant that the meaning of the object was not seen as inherent to the object itself, but came from the viewer's interaction with the object. This led to a new emphasis on the physical space in which the artwork resided. In part, this development was inspired by Maurice Merleau-Ponty's writings on phenomenology, in particular, The Phenomenology of Perception (1945).

Minimalist Paintings

Aside from sculptors, Minimalism is also associated with a few key abstract painters, such as Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, and Robert Ryman. These artists painted simple canvases that were considered minimal due to their barebones, often geometric compositions. Using only line, solid color, and sometimes geometric forms and shaped canvases, these artists combined painting materials in such a way that questioned the traditional dichotomy between artistic media by making paintings that could also be considered objects in their own right because of the bulkiness of the canvas support and the nontraditional shapes of the paintings.

Minimalist Light Installations

This use of florescent light tubes to create art further emphasized the Minimalist move away from traditional art forms. Dan Flavin used light and color from commercially available tubes to sculpt space into color zones. While the tubes were sometimes arranged in geometric shapes such as grids or simple lines, the focus of the art was typically on the light emitted rather than the form of the tubes themselves. The standard industrial fixtures that held the tubes were also useful as compositional elements. Turned to the viewer, their blank sides contrasted to the outward facing colored light in the grid pieces. Younger artists Keith Sonnier and Bruce Nauman saw the potential of light in sculpture and used neon tubing in combination with other materials and lettering.

Other Minimalists

The unadorned style and system-bound concepts of Minimalism found followers in architecture and interior design, where a revival of the International Style of the 1920s occurred and even Art Deco received a fresh look. Contemporary choreographers eliminated fussy costumes, and dancers performed to the strict, repetitive music by Minimalist composers on bare stages. Even, the frugal-appearing low-calorie plates of nouvelle cuisine imported from Paris were another phenomenon of Minimalism.

Further Developments

By the late 1960s, just a few years after the movement was born, Minimalism was diversifying into many disciplines to such an extent that it could no longer be seen as a coherent style or tendency: various artists who had been important to its early development began to move in different personal directions. New ideas and styles quickly came to dominate the emerging world.

Art and Objecthood

Detractors of Minimalist art were led by Michael Fried, whose essay "Art and Objecthood" was published in Artforum in 1967. Although the essay seemed to confirm the importance of the movement as a turning point in the history of modern art, Fried was uncomfortable with what it heralded. Referring to the movement as "literalism" and those who made it as "literalists," he accused artists like Judd and Morris of intentionally confusing the categories of art and ordinary objects. According to Fried, what these artists were creating was not art, but a political and/or ideological statement about the nature of art. Fried maintained that just because Judd and Morris arranged identical non-art objects in a three-dimensional field and proclaimed it "art," it didn't necessarily make it so. Fried mildly ridiculed their efforts by warning them against what he perceived as theatricality in the justifications they made for their installations. This was in direct confrontation in particular with Morris, who described the importance of the duration of time and the viewer's movements needed to experience the art and the importance of the perceptions gathered by the viewer.

Post-Minimalism

As the 1960s progressed, offshoots of Minimalism developed under the rubric of Post-Minimalism. Some of these, like works by Richard Serra, were extensions of Minimalist theories, but most were challenges to Minimalism's rigorous appearance. Californian Robert Irwin painted luminescent discs and minimalist canvases with faint stripes, but in 1969 he began making large gallery installations using available light sources concealed behind translucent screens. His works inspired the Light and Space movement joined by California sculptors Larry Bell and James Turrell. Such installations were openly theatrical and their simplicity suggested Zen Buddhist philosophy instead of formalism.

New venues encouraged more installations where Minimalist aesthetics were perceivable but strongly countered by independent visions. Lynda Benglis and Eva Hesse experimented with poured and shaped industrial resins that introduced an organic appearance when hung from the ceiling, projecting off the walls or scattered on the floor. Nancy Graves fabricated simulations of animal skins.

Robert Smithson organized an exhibition of Land art that posed an explicit challenge to conventional notions of sculpture and stretched Minimalist definitions. His Earthworks were made with bulldozers in remote locations and represented only by photographs. Following Smithson's example, Michael Heizer, Richard Long, and Walter de Maria removed art from galleries and turned the earth itself into artistic material. The boundaries between "sculpture" and "object" were eroded, and new definitions of art and creativity were revealed.

Minimalism and the Next Stage of Feminism

Viewing the success of the Minimalist sculptors in particular, feminists criticized what they saw as the rhetoric of power in the brutality of some of the works. The concept of Feminist art arose concurrent with Post-Minimalism and developed its own polemics born out of this era of consciousness-raising. Initially Feminist art was visibly handmade, craft-based, and incorporated ritual beliefs and icons: it was openly opposed to Minimalism and celebrated "the goddess." For example, Judy Chicago created The Dinner Party (1974), an enormous installation of ceramic place settings for thirty-nine historically famous women that was rich in cultural and totemic symbolism. It toured museums in America for five years, inspiring many collateral exhibitions along the route.

Throughout the twentieth century women had been underrepresented in museums and galleries and lacked organization until one of the leading Minimalist artists and theorists - Robert Morris - appeared in a poster for a 1974 exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery bare-chested and wearing chains and a Nazi-era helmet. Women who had participated in the Civil Rights Movement rose up against Morris and this image and began to call for gender equity in art practices. They published manifestos, picketed galleries and founded magazines such as Heresies, A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics (1977-92). The Woman's Building in Los Angeles and AIR Gallery in New York were established for women to show collaboratively and in solo exhibitions. The National Museum of Women in the Arts was founded in Washington, DC, in 1981 and moved into its own building in 1987, but by thas time the objectives of the feminists had largely been realized.

Original content written by Justin Wolf

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

. [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org website. Available from:
[Accesed ]

Useful Resources on Minimalism

Books
Websites
Articles
Videos
The books and articles below constitute a bibliography of the sources used in the writing this page. These also suggest some accessible resources for further research, especially ones that can be found and purchased via the internet.
Minimalism: History, Fashion, Design, Architecture, Interiors

By HF Ullmann

Minimalism: Origins

By Edward Strickland

Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the Sixties

By James Meyer

Minimalism

By James Meyer

The Artist's Force Field, Frozen in Time

By Roberta Smith
The New York Times
May 30, 2013

Seeing Beauty in Basics - Minimalist Sculptor Carl Andre Makes the Material the Star

By Suzanne Muchnic
The Los Angeles Times
November 27, 2007

Was Sol LeWitt an Artist?

By Roget Kimball
The New Criterion
April 10, 2007

From a Yarn Spinner, Variations for Minimalist Strings

By Benjamin Genocchio
The New York Times
September 5, 2004

Abstract Expressionism
Abstract Expressionism
Abstract Expressionism
A tendency among New York painters of the late 1940s and '50s, all of whom were committed to an expressive art of profound emotion and universal themes. The movement embraced the gestural abstraction of Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, and the color field painting of Mark Rothko and others. It blended elements of Surrealism and abstract art in an effort to create a new style fitted to the postwar mood of anxiety and trauma.
ArtStory: Abstract Expressionism
Post-Minimalism
Post-Minimalism
Post-Minimalism
Post-Minimalism refers to a range of art practices that emerged in the wake of Minimalism in the late 1960s, such as Body art, Performance, Process art, Site-Specific art, and aspects of Conceptual art. Some artists created art objects that do not have the representational function of traditional sculpture, objects that often have a strong material presence; others reacted against Minimalism's impersonality, and reintroduced emotionally expressive qualities.
ArtStory: Post-Minimalism
Constructivism
Constructivism
Constructivism
Russian Constructivism emerged with the Revolution of 1917 and sought a new approach to making objects, one which abolished the traditional concern with composition and replaced it with 'construction,' which called for a new attention to the technical character of materials. It was hoped that these inquiries would yield ideas for mass production. The movement was an important influence on geometric abstraction.
ArtStory: Constructivism
Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp
The French artist Marcel Duchamp was an instrumental figure in the avant-garde art worlds of Paris and New York. Moving through Dada, Surrealism, readymades, sculpture, and installation, his work involves conceptual play and an implicit attack on bourgeois art sensibilities.
ArtStory: Marcel Duchamp
Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg was one the leading American art critics during the twentieth century. Best known as the ideological counterpart to Harold Rosenberg, Greenberg was a formalist who coined the terms "American-type painting" and 'Post-painterly abstraction.' He was a staunch champion of pure abstraction, including the work of Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still and Hans Hofmann.
ArtStory: Clement Greenberg
Sol LeWitt
Sol LeWitt
Sol LeWitt
Sol LeWitt was an American artist commonly associated with the Minimalist and Conceptual movements. He rose to prominence in the 1960s with the likes of Rauschenberg, Johns and Stella, and his work was included in the famous 1966 exhibit Primary Structures at the Jewish Museum. LeWitt's art often employed simple geometric forms and archetypal symbols, and he worked in a variety of media but was most interested in the idea behind the artwork.
ArtStory: Sol LeWitt
Donald Judd
Donald Judd
Donald Judd
Donald Judd was an early and influential Minimalist artist who made large-scale geometric objects, often of industrial materials and serially arranged on the floor or wall. He helped found the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, where many key works of Minimalism are installed.
ArtStory: Donald Judd
Robert Morris
Robert Morris
Robert Morris
Robert Morris is an American artist whose early L-beam and column sculptures were key works in Minimalism. His work also includes felt and fabric pieces, performance, body art, and earthworks, often with an emphasis on process and theatricality.
ArtStory: Robert Morris
Dan Flavin
Dan Flavin
Dan Flavin
Dan Flavin was an American artist best known for his Minimalist constructions of color and light. Often using nothing more than a few dozen fluorescent bulbs for his work, Flavin was a crucial figure in the Minimalism of the 1960s and '70s. His light installations altered the physical exhibition space, and were designed as experiential art rather than visual art.
ArtStory: Dan Flavin
De Stijl
De Stijl
De Stijl
Founded in the Netherlands in 1917, De Stijl was an avant-garde dedicated to isolating a single visual style that would be appropriate to all aspects of modern life, from art to design to architecture. Taking its name from a periodical, its most famous practitioners were Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian, whose mature art employed geometric blocks of primary colors and vertical and horizontal lines.
ArtStory: De Stijl
Bauhaus
Bauhaus
Bauhaus
Bauhaus is a style associated with the Bauhaus school, an extremely influential art and design school in Weimar Germany that emphasized functionality and efficiency of design. Its famous faculty - including Joseph Albers and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe - generally rejected distinctions between the fine and applied arts, and encouraged major advances in industrial design.
ArtStory: Bauhaus
Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian, a founding member of the De Stijl movement, was a modern Dutch artist who used grids, perpendicular lines, and the three primary colors in what he deemed Neo-plasticism.
ArtStory: Piet Mondrian
Josef Albers
Josef Albers
Josef Albers
Josef Albers was a German-born American painter and teacher. Celebrated as a geometric abstractionist and influential instructor at Black Mountain College, Albers directly influenced such artists as Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly and Ray Johnson.
ArtStory: Josef Albers
Vladimir Tatlin
Vladimir Tatlin
Vladimir Tatlin
Vladimir Tatlin was a prominent Russian avant-garde artist and architect. He was one of the key figures of the Constructivist movement.
ArtStory: Vladimir Tatlin
Constantin Brancusi
Constantin Brancusi
Constantin Brancusi
Constantin Brancusi, a Romanian artist working in Paris, was one of the founders of modern sculpture. His abstracted animals, portrait busts, and totem-like figures revolutionized the traditional relationship between the sculpture and its base.
ArtStory: Constantin Brancusi
Surrealism
Surrealism
Surrealism
Perhaps the most influential avant-garde movement of the century, Surrealism was founded in Paris in 1924 by a small group of writers and artists who sought to channel the unconscious as a means to unlock the power of the imagination. Much influenced by Freud, they believed that the conscious mind repressed the power of the imagination. Influenced also by Marx, they hoped that the psyche had the power to reveal the contradictions in the everyday world and spur on revolution.
ArtStory: Surrealism
Harold Rosenberg
Harold Rosenberg
Harold Rosenberg
Harold Rosenberg was a critic, art historian, and curator who published important works on modern art and culture. He was a leading exponent of Abstract Expressionism, and coined the term "Action Painting."
ArtStory: Harold Rosenberg
Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko was an Abstract Expressionist painter whose early interest in mythic landscapes gave way to mature works featuring large, hovering blocks of color on colored grounds.
ArtStory: Mark Rothko
Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman was an Abstract Expressonist painter in New York who painted large-scale fields of solid color, interrupted by vertical lines or "zips." His sometimes narrow or boxy canvases, part painting and part sculpture, were influential for Minimalism.
ArtStory: Barnett Newman
Color Field Painting
Color Field Painting
Color Field Painting
A tendency within Abstract Expressionism, distinct from gestural abstraction, Color Field painting was developed by Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, and Clyfford Still in the late 1940s, and developed further by Helen Frankenthaler and others. It is characterized by large fields of color and an absence of any figurative motifs, and often expresses a yearning for transcendence and the infinite.
ArtStory: Color Field Painting
Ad Reinhardt
Ad Reinhardt
Ad Reinhardt
Ad Reinhardt was an American abstract artist whose monochromatic canvases show side-by-side rectangles painted in subtle variations of the same color. Very much part of the New York scene in the 1940s, he nonetheless scorned the label and gestural ethos of Abstract Expressionism.
ArtStory: Ad Reinhardt
Frank Stella
Frank Stella
Frank Stella
Frank Stella is an American artist whose geometric paintings and shaped canvases underscore the idea of the painting as object. A major influence on Minimalism, his iconic works include nested black and white stripes and concentric, angular half-circles in bright colors.
ArtStory: Frank Stella
Kenneth Noland
Kenneth Noland
Kenneth Noland
Kenneth Noland was an American painter who helped pioneer the Color-field painting movement in the 1960s. His most famous works consist of circular ripples of paint poured directly onto the canvas.
ArtStory: Kenneth Noland
Robert Mangold
Robert Mangold
Robert Mangold
Robert Mangold is an American artist closely associated with the Minimalist movement that surfaced during the 1960s in New York. Highly regarded for his restrained yet bold surfaces of intersecting geometric forms, or what could be called minimalist color fields, Mangold was one of Minimalism's pioneers, having worked closely with the likes of LeWitt, Flavin and Ryman. Mangold's paintings were also included in the seminal 1965 exhibition "Minimal Art" at the Jewish Museum.
Robert Mangold
Conceptual Art
Conceptual Art
Conceptual Art
Conceptual art describes an influential movement that first emerged in the mid-1960s and prized ideas over the formal or visual components of traditional works of art. The artists often challenged old concepts such as beauty and quality; they also questioned the conventional means by which the public consumed art; and they rejected the conventional art object in favor of diverse mediums, ranging from maps and diagrams to texts and videos.
ArtStory: Conceptual Art
Carl Andre
Carl Andre
Carl Andre
Carl Andre is an American Minimalist whose prominence rose in the late 1960s with a series of large public artworks and sculpture. His linear sculpture was included in the famed 1966 Primary Structures group exhibition at the Jewish Museum.
ArtStory: Carl Andre
Joseph Kosuth
Joseph Kosuth
Joseph Kosuth
Joseph Kosuth is an American conceptual artist, philosopher and essayist. His most celebrated work is One and Three Chairs (1965), which doubles as a piece of commentary on Plato's Theory of Forms. He is likewise well-known for his 1969 essay "Art after Philosophy," considered a key text of postmodern art writing.
ArtStory: Joseph Kosuth
Ellsworth Kelly
Ellsworth Kelly
Ellsworth Kelly
Ellsworth Kelly is an American Color Field and Hard edge painter. Kelly got his start in the late 1950s with showings at the Betty Parsons Gallery and the Whitney Museum. His work often consists of shaped canvases, simple geometric shapes, and large panels of uniform color.
ArtStory: Ellsworth Kelly
Anthony Caro
Anthony Caro
Anthony Caro
Sir Anthony Alfred Caro is an English abstract sculptor whose work famously incorporates found industrial objects, or what has been called "junk sculpture." Caro's non-objective sculpture was heavily influenced by the work of David Smith in the 1950s. Caro showed at the 1966 Primary Structures exhibition at the Jewish Museum. His work has also been categorized as Minimalist and Conceptual.
Anthony Caro
Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin was a Canadian-born American painter, typically associated with Minimalism and at times Abstract Expressionism. Always something of a recluse, Martin's art was informed by Eastern Taoist philosophy and contained elements of spirituality. Her painting style employed simple lines, grid patterns and soft colors.
Agnes Martin
Robert Ryman
Robert Ryman
Robert Ryman
Robert Ryman is an American painter and multi-media artist; he was also a pioneer for the movements of Minimalism and Conceptual art. Initially influenced by the first-generation AbEx painters, Ryman became fascinated with the act of making art. This led him to experiment with virtually every material and form of media at his disposal.
Robert Ryman
Keith Sonnier
Keith Sonnier
Keith Sonnier
Keith Sonnier is an American artist who, in the 1960s, was one of the first people to use light as a material in his sculptures. Sonnier was part of the Post-Minimalist and Process Art movements.
Keith Sonnier
Bruce Nauman
Bruce Nauman
Bruce Nauman
Bruce Nauman is a contemporary American artist concerned with language, process, manipulation, and the registers of irony. His work includes performance, video, installation, neon sculpture, and other materials.
ArtStory: Bruce Nauman
Richard Serra
Richard Serra
Richard Serra
Richard Serra is an American Process and Minimalist artist. His sculptures have ranged from hurled drips of molten lead to gigantic steel pieces installed in public places.
ArtStory: Richard Serra
Robert Irwin
Robert Irwin
Robert Irwin
Robert Irwin is an American painter, sculptor, landscape architect and installation artist. Coming of age during the Abstract Expressionist years in New York, Irwin remained in his native Los Angeles and devoted himself to creating largely experiential art, such as the Central Garden at Los Angeles' Getty Center.
Robert Irwin
Lynda Benglis
Lynda Benglis
Lynda Benglis
Lynda Benglis is an American artist associated with process-based and anti-form art. Best known for her floor-based "spills" and latex sculptures, she adds a critical feminist perspective to post-minimalist work.
Lynda Benglis
Eva Hesse
Eva Hesse
Eva Hesse
Eva Hesse was a major New York artist whose sculpture, assemblage, and installation brought issues of feminism and the body into Minimalism's formal vocabulary. She is heralded as one of the quintessential Post-Minimalist artists.
ArtStory: Eva Hesse
Robert Smithson
Robert Smithson
Robert Smithson
Robert Smithson was an American artist best known for his innovations in Land and Earth Art. Smithson's large-scale projects employed earth and other natural resources to construct works that both manipulated and preserved the natural landscape. His most famous work is Spiral Jetty in Utah, constructed entirely from basalt, earth and salt.
ArtStory: Robert Smithson
Land Art
Land Art
Land Art
Land art, or Earth art, a term coined by artist Robert Smithson, refers to artworks from the 1960s and '70s that employed land and other natural elements. It is typical of a time when artists rejected the traditional art object, expanded definitions of sculpture, and sought to move art outside the conventional art world structure of galleries and museums.
ArtStory: Land Art
Michael Heizer
Michael Heizer
Michael Heizer
Michael Heizer is an American artist who specializes in Land art installation, Conceptual art and and large public sculptures. Heizer's most celebrated pieces are Earthworks that rely on the alteration but ultimate preservation of the natural landscape, such as Double Negative (1969), in which Heizer cut a 1500-foot long trench into a mesa in the Nevada desert. Much of Heizer's work has also been inspired by Native American art and iconography.
Michael Heizer
Richard Long
Richard Long
Richard Long
Richard Long is a British painter, sculptor, photographer and Land artist. Much of his work is considered a response to the natural environments he enters, incorporating mixed-media and various non-art elements such as landscape, rock, maps and text. In this respect, Long's work has been classified by some as Environmental art, rather than the dated Land art.
Richard Long
Walter de Maria
Walter de Maria
Walter de Maria
Walter de Maria is an American sculptor, composer and multi-media artist. His works have been characterized as Minimalist, Installation, Land art, Neo-Dada, and Conceptualist. De Maria's best known work is The Lightning Field (1977), consisting of 400 lightning rods situated on a field in New Mexico.
Walter de Maria
Feminist Art
Feminist Art
Feminist Art
Feminist art emerged in the 1960s and '70s to explore questions of sex, power, the body, and the ways in which gender categories structure how we see and understand the world. Developing at the same time as many new media strategies, feminist art frequently involves text, installation, and performance elements.
ArtStory: Feminist Art
Judy Chicago
Judy Chicago
Judy Chicago
Judy Chicago is an American feminist artist and author. Originally associated with the Minimalist movement of the 1960s, Chicago soon abandoned this in favor of creating content-based art. Her most famous work to date is the installation piece The Dinner Party (1974-79), an homage to women's history.
ArtStory: Judy Chicago