Minimalism as a style of art was born in the 60s of the last century. America became its homeland. The main features of minimalism are the simplicity of forms of expression, as well as a literal, objective approach.
The forerunners of minimalism in the painting can reasonably be called Kazimir Malevich with his “Black Square”. Here he reached an apotheosis in simplification of color and form. Still, “Black Square” is a suprematism work, because, in addition to the external form, it is necessary to take into account the conceptual and philosophical component of creativity. As an independent style, minimalism was formed much later, in the 1960s, in New York.
Interestingly, the new direction was not just a development of minimalist ideas that had been voiced earlier. Minimal art emerged as a protest against abstract expressionism in the 1940s and 1950s. Minimalists decided to cleanse abstractionism of expression, emotionality, subjectivism, and complexity of forms. They considered their art to be objective.
The author of the term “minimalism” was a British philosopher and art historian Richard Walheim. He singled out this direction, analyzing the creativity of the artists who go in their works by the least interference with the world around them.
The origins of minimalism lie in such currents as pop art and suprematism. The direction of K. Malevich’s work and the trends of the Bauhaus school have also influenced the development.
Expressive features of minimalism
Minimalists sought to convey the essence of the depicted objects, cutting off everything that, in their view, distracted attention from the main.
The conceptual features of the style became:
- simple geometrical forms (straight lines, cubic designs dominated);
- a simple palette (the artists sought to use pure colors);
- the desire for monochrome;
- compositional laconicism;
- the desire to erase the boundaries between painting and sculpture (in its most lapidary forms);
- geometric rigor and slenderness (an optional but typical condition);
a craving for abstraction.
Gradually, minimalism distanced itself from all other styles of painting. As a result, its main features were formed. First of all, it is the expressiveness of colors, as well as smoothness and geometricity.
Russian constructivism, on a wave of increased interest in it, encouraged artists to widely use industrial materials to express their ideas. Paintings are often characterized by asymmetry, repetition of various geometric figures. The space of the painting is usually simple and unloaded.
Colour in minimalism performs the task of zoning the space, rather than expressing emotions or transmitting moods. The flow is also characterized by a lack of subjectivity and realism: the artist seeks to ensure that the viewer perceives the object independently.
Refusal from what is necessary for the favor of what is most necessary.
Another feature of minimalism is the desire to demystify art in order to be able to reveal what is its fundamental basis.
In the foreground, minimalists have a form by which they convey the depth of color. Plots of paintings are filled with metaphors, symbols. Emotions are conveyed by the painters in a non-standard way: they use for this purpose lines and various geometrical forms. Also, the works of minimalists carry some subtext, often have a sharp social meaning.
Frank Stella (born 1936), an American artist and master of post-painting abstraction, lived mainly in New York, where he began as a draughtsman and designer.
In 1959-1960 a series of Stella’s Black Paintings was published. As the name makes clear, the dominance of black lines was a distinctive feature of the paintings.
This creative rise of the artist was seen by the owner of the New York gallery Leo Castelli, who realized the genius of the master and exhibited his paintings at home.
The “Black Paintings” was followed by “Aluminum Paintings” and then “Copper Paintings”. In memory of terrible historical events, a series of works “Polish Villages” is created.
Frank Stella: “You see what you see.”
In his artworks, Stella preferred black as the dominant color, and in general, gravitated towards monochrome, but sometimes he departed from his traditions and then came into being as in the cycle “Concentric Squares”, which appeared in the polychrome and relief.
Frank Stella was awarded the U.S. National Medal for the Arts and the International Sculpture Center’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015) is an American artist and sculptor, one of the main representatives of minimalism, hard-edge, and color field painting.
Kelly’s work is characterized by exceptional clarity and simplicity. Clear abstract contours of geometric surfaces are made in intense color.
In the late sixties he worked as a sculptor, later began to use metal in his works. The artist has a number of works in the genres of pop art and surrealism.
Ellsworth Kelly: “I don’t want to draw people. “I want to paint something I’ve never seen before.”
Ellsworth Kelly died on 27 December 2015 at age 92. He was awarded the US National Medal of Arts.
Spanish artist Antón Lamazares (b.1954) expressed his thoughts in works in deliberately primitive form.
Due to the lack of towels, he used wood, ribbed cardboard, packaging, and lacquer. This is how his personal artistic style developed and attracted the attention of critics. Originally a passion for expressionism, he later developed into a kind of minimalism.
At the age of 19, he participated for the first time in an exhibition of young artists held on Praça da Princesa Square in Vigo. Since then, exhibitions have been held many times around the world.
The artist’s works are kept in numerous well-known cultural institutions such as the Queen Sofia Centre for the Arts, the Galician Centre for Contemporary Art, the Madrid Museum of Modern Art, and the Marugami Hirai Museum in Japan, as well as many private collections and foundations.
Jose Esteban Basso
The Chilean artist José Basso can be called the standard of minimalism. The artist himself calls his style “ritual painting”. His paintings are terse, reserved, and concise, allow you to relax, relax without thinking about what you see. Minimal objects, pure colors, no detail, no texture, only frozen infinity…
The works of the master evoke only positive emotions, filling the viewer with light and warmth and allow them to enjoy the ease and simplicity, in front of them you can safely meditate.
In addition to painting, the artist is also engaged in photography and computer graphics, and of course, all these works are also characterized by restraint and conciseness.
Such areas of minimalism as neo-minimalism and post-minimalism have gradually developed. The former is characterized by inaccuracy, vagueness, and representatives of the latter are distinguished by a desire not so much to convey the idea itself as to emphasize the method of such transmission.
Designation of minimalism
The importance of this direction in art is in the fight against academism and dogmatism, in the pursuit of simplicity, the complete rejection of all kinds of excesses in favor of the depth of meaning. For this purpose, artists revise the existing canons, renounce the old rules in favor of new ideas to convey color, as well as use images of geometric forms.
Nowadays, ideas of minimalism have penetrated into various industries, such as interior design, landscape design, clothing design, and others. Also, minimalism has not passed over information technologies, such as web design and software (development of software interfaces). Quite often we can see the results of minimalism in the development of technical solutions, for example, in the automotive industry, household appliances, and engineering.
Minimalist artists contrasted themselves with traditional art. Their works are not paintings or sculptures, but simply arbitrary objects. The main artistic goal of minimalists was to simplify the essence and form of objects, to get rid of layers of images and symbols in art. Unlike an ordinary work, their works tell no story – this is what artist Donald Judd says in his manifesto “Specific Objects”, these ideas are explained in the essay “ABC art” by art historian Barbara Rose. The last article is considered programmatic, and after its publication minimalism began to be called “ABC art”.
One of the pioneers of British minimalism is Rashid Arain. He worked in London without looking at American craftsmen. He was more influenced by British Anthony Caro and his metal sculptures.
Minimalism in graphic design
Minimalism in graphic design is a simplification of composition, an emphasis on an important detail.
Nothing superfluous and a lot of empty space. Most of the work done in this style use 1-2 colors and several shades of these colors. The clear font does not carry a visual load and uses no more than 2-3 font headsets.