Minimalism Essay, Research Paper

In order to understand minimal artists? tendency to produce objects and not images, we need to define minimalism. Michael Delahunt at Artlex (1) refers to minimalism as ?A twentieth

century style of art stressing the idea of reducing a work of art to the minimum number of colors, values, shapes, lines and textures?. But I think this definition does not completely reflect what minimal artists did. They did not get interested in ?complex? things as colors, values, lines etc.

They preferred objects to images or I would rather say ?brushstrokes?. Because that they

believed that ?less is more?, even brushstrokes were too much for them.

Minimalists were against self expression. They wanted to use the meaning a ready made object already has in it. This was totally suitable for their purpose of using minimum effort and

material for an artwork. Preparing an image would consume too much of the artists? time and effort. And what?s more, it would have self expression in it.

They also believed that art could be concieved by mind before execution. That is, one

must be able to explain an artwork to another who hasn?t seen it. For example Mohology-Nagy

gave instructions by phone to a factory for one of his works(2). This can be thought as a instruction manual for an artwork (I think we can call minimalism as D.I.Y. art!). But you can?t do this kind of art with a painting. Can you think of it? ?put some yellow there, mix red with brown and put it on the tree with gentle strokes…?.With ready made objects, just like an architect, giving directions from where you sit, with ?minimal? effort, you can create an artwork. And what is more you don?t have to do it yourself. Dan Flavin?s Monument for V. Tatlin was made by the work of electricians(2). It can be discussed whether it can be still considered as the work of Flavin or not but the artists see this as their work because they thought of it.

When I first came up with Duchamp?s urinal, I was surprised to see that it is considered as art. The designer of the urinal had more work on it. Even the worker in the factdry had more effort given to it. But what Duchamp did was to present it to the public in a tilted position -a way people are not used to seeing it- and say ?this is art because I have my signature on it?. I think this tells us the most about minimalism. Why must an artist create something completely new by putting days of work in it, why an artist can not use ready made object or objects and say I am using the meaning the object(s) already have in them? Even more, minimal art is not always minimal. Artists sometimes used large amunts of readymade objects as in 37 Pieces of Work (2)in Guggenheim Museum uses 1,296 pieces. This shows us that minimal artists were interested in readymade objects not only for their simplicity but meaning.

Images need to be on a surface and you have to create a space on the flat surface. Minimalists preferred to use three dimensional objects because they had an actual space around them which is more effective than depicted space (Again more is obtained by less). Here they use the readymade space around the object.

A related matter to space is the environment. When you put an object in a room, the walls,

ceiling, floor and any other object becomes a part of the artwork preparing the environment which in an image you have to prepare. Placement in the environment can be changed with objects while images must remain on the same place.

All this simplicity is very suitable to the philosophy of minimalism.

Minimalist artists? concern was to create decorative installations rather than artistic images.

It is obvious that objects serve better to that purpose. They also wanted their art to be simple and pure. They wanted it to be portable, detachable and storable… They wanted the maximum with minimum.

1. Delahunt, Michael , , 1996-98

2. Stangos, Nikos , Concepts of Modern Art , Thames and Hudson , pp. 244-254 , London ,1995.

3. Minimalism , eem13/minimalism.html.

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