The Inapplicability of Minimalism
Minimalism is an art movement that began in the 1950s and is characterized by simplicity, objectivity and geometric abstraction. In most cases, the notion lacks applicability because unlike all the common art forms such as sculptures, paintings or drawings, an artist has the freedom to use only the basics. The approach taken towards creating a work of art is also unique in that it often calls for a reduction or complete removal of elements which are considered non-essential. This can be seen as a form of rebellion against traditional ideas about what art should look like and how it should be created.
The aim of this essay is to argue against minimalism, and the notion that less is more. To do this, we will firstly need to provide a definition for minimalism. We will then go on to discuss the controversy surrounding one of the most famous minimalistic sculptures, Richard Serra’s “Tilted Arc”. After this, we will take a look at the work of two other prominent minimalistic artists, Dan Flavin and Donald Judd. Finally, we will conclude by stating our overall opinion on minimalism.
2. What is minimalism?
As we have mentioned before, minimalism is an art movement that began in the 1950s and is characterized by simplicity, objectivity and geometric abstraction. In terms of visual arts, it is often associated with clean lines, plain colours and simple forms. The idea behind minimalism is that by reducing a work of art to its essentials, the viewer can focus on its true meaning and appreciate it on a deeper level. Minimalism has been applied to many different art forms including painting, sculpture, architecture, music and film.
One of the most famous examples of minimalism in painting is Mark Rothko’s “Untitled”, which consists of two large rectangles of colour (one orange and one yellow) separated by a thin line of black (see Figure 1). The painting is deliberately simplistic and there is no hidden meaning or message behind it – Rothko once said that he wanted his paintings to be “accessible to everyone”. Other examples of minimalist painting include Robert Rauschenberg’s “Erased de Kooning Drawing” (1953), which consists of a white canvas with a pencil drawing of a face erased from it, and Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room” (1966), which is a small room filled with mirrors and lights (see Figure 2).
3. The controversy surrounding Richard Serra’s “Tilted Arc”
Richard Serra’s “Tilted Arc” (1981) was a minimalist sculpture installed in New York’s Federal Plaza. The sculpture consisted of a 120-foot-long sheet of cor-ten steel placed diagonally across the plaza (see Figure 3). The sculpture was controversial from the outset, with many people claiming that it was an eyesore and that it disrupted the flow of traffic through the plaza. In 1985, after much debate, a jury voted to remove the sculpture from its location. This decision proved to be hugely controversial, with many people arguing that it was a victory for censorship over artistic expression. Despite its short life span, “Tilted Arc” remains one of the most famous examples of minimalist sculpture.
4. The work of Dan Flavin
Dan Flavin was a leading figure in the minimalism movement and is best known for his use of light and fluorescent tubes. One of his most famous works is “Untitled” (to Don Judd) (1964), which consists of four fluorescent tubes placed in the corners of a room (see Figure 4). The tubes emit a bright white light, which creates a stark contrast with the darkness of the room. The work is deliberately simple, but it has a powerful effect on the viewer.
5. The work of Donald Judd
Donald Judd was another major figure in the minimalism movement. His work often consisted of simple geometric shapes, which he would arrange in repeating patterns. One of his most famous works is ” Untitled” (1968), which consists of ten aluminium boxes placed in a row (see Figure 5). The boxes are all identical in size and shape, but they are arranged in a random order, which creates a sense of visual rhythm. Judd’s work often had a political or social message behind it, but he never explicitly stated what this was.
In conclusion, we would like to argue that minimalism is an art movement that lacks applicability and meaning. The notion that less is more is simply not true in most cases – more often than not, less just means less. We would also like to argue that the controversy surrounding “Tilted Arc” was more about censorship than anything else. The sculpture was removed not because it was ugly or disruptive, but because it was offensive to some people. We believe that art should be about expression and creativity, not about following rules or conformi