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The Architecture of Minimalism

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The Architecture of Minimalism

June 6, 2016      In Architecture Comments Off on The Architecture of Minimalism

Art and architecture – all the arts – do not have to exist in isolation, as they do now. This fault is very much a key to present society. Architecture is nearly gone, but all the arts, in fact all parts of society, have to be rejoined, and joined more than they have ever been. This would be democratic in a good sense, unlike the present increasing fragmentation into separate but equal categories, equal within the arts, but inferior to powerful bureaucracies.

[Donald Judd], The Architecture of Minimalism, Spain, 1997.
The terms of Minimalism or Minimal Art usually refer to the work produced during the 1960s by a group of American artists, among them Robert Morris, Carl Andre, Anthony Caro, Donald Judd, Tony Smith, Frank Stella, Robert Ryman, Walter de Maria, and later, Sol LeWitt, Richard Serra, Dan Flavin, Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer, Joel Shapiro and even James Turell.

Despite similarities, mutual collaborations, and friendships among these artists, however, obvious differences in their work stand out. When we speak of Minimal Art we refer not to a homogeneous movement based on shared principals, but rather to a group of contemporary artists in whose work we can detect certain similarities. In a sense, it is actually simplification to which critics inevitably cling. In some cases we could speak of Abstract Art (Frank Stella, Sol LeWitt), since it is no coincidence that some of their most immediate references are the paintings of Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt, or in other cases, of landscape artists (Walter de Maria, Robert Smithson).

Donald Judd himself was one of the people who fought most strongly against having the term Minimalism applied to his work. He considered his sculptures by no means to be minimal. On the contrary, what had driven him to create those objects was the will to move far away from appearance and representation, and to create objects whose force lies in the concrete presence in a place, developing properties such as scale, the relationship with the immediate surroundings, direct work with materials, reflections, texture-hardly minimal, in other words.

Among Minimalists are painters, sculptors, creators of installations, and artists who work with light or even with topography and land. In practically all their works the formal resources employed are minimal. They transmit a certain conceptual coldness. They often use methods of mathematical composition such as serialization or repetition. What unites the work of all Minimalists is the will to create a specific work whose meaning stems not from a discourse on what the work evokes or on how it was executed, but rather from direct observation of the work and its relationship to its surroundings.

Francisco Asensio Cerver, The Architecture of Minimalism, Spain, 1997.

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