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Post-Minimalism

Started: 1966

Post-Minimalism Timeline

Important Art and Artists of Post-Minimalism

The below artworks are the most important in Post-Minimalism - that both overview the major ideas of the movement, and highlight the greatest achievements by each artist in Post-Minimalism. Don't forget to visit the artist overview pages of the artists that interest you.

The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths, (Window or Wall Sign) (1967)
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The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths, (Window or Wall Sign) (1967)

Artist: Bruce Nauman

Artwork description & Analysis: This seminal work was created in the studio Nauman established in an abandoned grocery store in San Francisco and modeled after the neon advertisement signs nearby. It acts as an advertisement of a different kind. Its colorful, circular text proclaims the words of the title: "The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths." It is characteristic of Nauman's early neon works, and typical of the tone of dry satire in much of his oeuvre. Commenting on high art in the materials of low culture and advertising, it sets up a clash that questions old assumptions about the purpose of art and artists, like are artists just ordinary salesmen? One might say that the piece is Post-Minimalist simply by virtue of standing at the borders of so many different styles and approaches of the period, borrowing from Pop art's interest in advertising, and Conceptual art's interest in language.

Neon tubing and clear glass tubing - Collection of the artist

A Line Made by Walking (1967)
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A Line Made by Walking (1967)

Artist: Richard Long

Artwork description & Analysis: A Line Made by Walking is highly characteristic of the conceptual Earth art created by British artist Richard Long. In making a line across the grass by the simple act of walking, Long creates a type of drawing-without-drawing, doing away completely with the conventional tools and using instead his body and nature. Abandoning the traditional art object in this way is typical of Post-Minimalism, as is the way in which Long's line draws attention to the passing of time and the specific, fleeting moment in which the line was made.

Photograph and pencil on board - Tate Modern, London

Verb List (1967-68)
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Verb List (1967-68)

Artist: Richard Serra

Artwork description & Analysis: Although usually regarded as an artist's statement (akin to a private, reflective diary entry), Verb List might also be regarded as the artist's chronological, aesthetic agenda, setting out his subsequent development in sculpture. It also amounts to a catalogue of the creative procedures employed by process artists linked to Post-Minimalism. If the 'to' verbs denote acts already accomplished, and the 'of' verbs are those yet to be done, Verb List may also be viewed as a shorthand, visual retrospective of Serra's entire career, compressing past, present and future into a single material object. Like a map, or a theoretical diagram, Verb List finally 'stands in' as a visual and conceptual proxy for something more physically tangible, or virtually touchable—sculpture itself. Serra's later, monumental walls in steel ultimately come to embody, in more abstract and open-ended terms, what the artist has chosen to conjure here in the 'mind's eye' of the beholder, indeed by way of strictly linguistic medium.

Graphite on paper - The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Untitled (1970)
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Untitled (1970)

Artist: Eva Hesse

Artwork description & Analysis: Eva Hesse was one of the artists included in Lucy Lippard's ground-breaking 1966 show Eccentric Abstraction. She was profoundly influenced by the Minimalist Carl Andre, yet her work is characteristic of feminist responses to that earlier movement. This Untitled piece uses soft and malleable materials like as cloth, latex and wire mesh. They are unconventional for an artwork of this period, combining the Minimalist industrial, with the somewhat domestic. The effect they create is organic, the two dangling appendages at the center of each square evoking wobbly legs. The bulging, irregular frames of the four squares seem to mock the perfect straight angles of Minimalism, even as they hang on the wall like conventional paintings. Hesse's work is typical of those among her peers who borrowed the anonymous language of Minimalism, but rejected its austere formalism, reintroducing emotionally expressive qualities.

Fiberglass, wire mesh, latex, and cloth - Des Moines Art Center, Iowa

Spiral Jetty (1970)
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Spiral Jetty (1970)

Artist: Robert Smithson

Artwork description & Analysis: Spiral Jetty is a legendary example of Earth Art and a typical Post-Minimalist rejection of industrial forms and motifs. Its interest in process and time embraces themes relating to entropy, depletion and exhaustion. The northern section of the Great Salt Lake, where Smithson chose to site Spiral Jetty, was cut off from fresh water supplies when a nearby causeway was constructed by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1959. This produced a concentration of salt-tolerant bacteria and algae, producing the water's unique red-violet coloration. Smithson particularly liked the combination of colors because it evoked a ruined and polluted, science fiction landscape. By inserting the Jetty into this damaged section and using entirely natural materials native to the area, Smithson called attention to this environmental blight. Nevertheless, he also sought to reference the importance of time in eroding and transforming our environment. The piece's coiling structure was inspired by the growth patterns of crystals. Yet it also resembles a primeval symbol, making the landscape seem ancient, and at the same time futuristic.

Water, basalt, salt - Dia Art Foundation

Trademarks (1970)
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Trademarks (1970)

Artist: Vito Acconci

Artwork description & Analysis: Vito Acconci's work of the 1960s is typical of the openness and variety of Post-Minimalism, since it seems to obey few borders, having no single identifiable style, using no single medium, and crossing many fields, including Performance and Conceptual art. Trademarks is also typical of his engagement with Body art. To create it, he repeatedly bit himself in various places on his body in order to leave indentations. He used his body as a malleable substance that was altered and manipulated. The bite marks are uniquely his, and he uses them to brand as much of his body as possible. The marks are signatures of authorship that have migrated from the conventional artwork on to the artist's own body, hurting himself in the process and suggesting a kind of sexual violence, something private and taboo. The discomfort with authorship is characteristic of the ethos of much art produced in the 1960s.

Performance/ Photograph - The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California



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Related Art and Artists

Untitled (1969)
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Untitled (1969)

Movement: Minimalism

Artist: Donald Judd

Artwork description & Analysis: Judd was an important theoretician for Minimalism and one of the key proponents of enlivening gallery spaces by placing objects in a non-conventional manner, in his case by hanging art vertically on the wall. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Judd created multiple versions of this untitled work, always retaining the same scale but never using the same color or materials. He wanted his work to exist in real three-dimensional space rather than representing a fictive three-dimensional space or narrative as in traditional painting and sculpture. Referring to his sculptures as "primary structures," he discarded conventional elements of sculpture (the plinth, the figure, etc.), and instead created objects that, although oddly cold, everyday, and industrial in appearance, emphasize the upright in a way that strongly suggests a repetition of the observer's own body. Though they hang on the wall like a painting, they extend from the wall like a sculpture, thus challenging traditional distinctions between these two media. Judd's use of prefabricated industrial materials in repeated identical shapes reference factory-built commodities and the materiality of the media, while also underscoring the Minimalist goal of reducing the visible hand of the artist in order to free the work of any emotion or referentiality, something that is further underscored by the work's lack of a title.

Brass and colored fluorescent Plexiglas on steel brackets - Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

Rhythm 10 (1973)
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Rhythm 10 (1973)

Movement: Performance Art

Artist: Marina Abramović

Artwork description & Analysis: In Rhythm 10, Abramović uses a series of 20 knives to quickly stab at the spaces between her outstretched fingers. Every time she pierces her skin, she selects another knife from those carefully laid out in front of her. Halfway through, she begins playing a recording of the first half of the hour-long performance, using the rhythmic beat of the knives striking the floor, and her hand, to repeat the same movements, cutting herself at the same time. This piece exemplifies Abramović's use of ritual in her work, and demonstrates what the artist describes as the synchronicity between the mistakes of the past and those of the present.

- Performed at a festival in Edinburgh

One and Three Chairs (1965)
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One and Three Chairs (1965)

Movement: Conceptual Art

Artist: Joseph Kosuth

Artwork description & Analysis: A physical chair sits between a scale photograph of a chair and a printed definition of the word "chair." Emblematic of Conceptual art, One and Three Chairs makes people question what constitutes the "chair" - the physical object, the idea, the photograph, or a combination of all three. Joseph Kosuth once wrote, "The art I call conceptual is such because it is based on an inquiry into the nature of art. Thus, it is...a thinking out of all the implications, of all aspects of the concept 'art.'" One and Three Chairs denies the hierarchical distinction between an object and a representation, just as it implies a conceptual work of art can be object or representation in its various forms. This work harks back to and also extends the kind of inquiry into the presumed priority of object over representation that had been earlier proposed by the Surrealist Rene Magritte in his Treachery of Images (1928-9), with its image of a pipe over the inscription "Ceci n'est pas un pipe" (This is not a pipe).

Wood folding chair, mounted photograph of a chair, and photographic enlargement of a dictionary definition of "chair" - The Museum of Modern Art, New York

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Content compiled and written by Julianne Cordray

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Movement Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Julianne Cordray
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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