Early in 1960, Minimalism was as an abstract movement in the subject art. It also dismissed the very idea of both subjective as well as relational painting, the intricacy of Abstract expressionist facade, as well as the other elements of action painting such as the poignant polemics and zeitgeist. Minimalism debated upon the point that excessive simplicity captures the entire sublime representation which is a prerequisite in the art. Minimalism in painting is linked with painters like Frank Stella. It is opposed to the modernist movement but can be further interpreted as a forerunner to the post – modern movement.
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During the mid 1960’s, Process Art was regarded as a creative movement in Europe and the US. The drip paintings of Jackson Pollock have its roots. On the other hand, the employment of the blessing has marked coherence with Dada. The prominent themes in the process of art movement are transience and change. As per the Guggenheim Museum, in the year 1968, Robert Morris had a revolutionary exhibition and essay ascertaining the movement . The process artists were also a part of the issues attendant to the body, the improvisation and the random occurrences, as well as the liberating qualities of certain nontraditional materials like latex, wax and felt. Various techniques such as hanging, cutting and dropping and other organic processes like condensation, growth, decomposition or freezing is used to create various irregular, erratic and anomalous forms.
Land art or earth art as an art movement gained popularity in the US in the late 1960’s and 70’s. Robert Smithson also called it as earthworks. In this form of art, the art work and the landscape are linked accordingly. Further, such form of art is created using natural paraphernalia like soil, pebbles, rocks (boulders, stones and bed rocks), other organic materials such as branches, leaves, logs and water, along with the introduced materials like metals, concrete, asphalt, other mineral pigments etc. The landscape is considered as the means of creation and hence the sculptures are not placed in it. Many a times, the earth moving equipment is also involved. The works are located away from the civilization and most often, exist in the open, in order to abrade under the natural conditions. The initial works, created in the deserts of New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and Utah are only present as photographs and video recordings as these were evanescent in nature.
THE MOST RADICAL CHALLENGE TO TRADITIONAL CONCEPTS OF SCULPTURE
The perceptual as well as structural changes in the forms define a new movement in the art. The changes further make the movement innovative. However, if we consider Robert Morris’ essays ” Notes on Sculpture”, then the prominent changes in the form are just the distinct extensions of a mere change in the relevance. Post the year 1945, changes in global politics and the recognition of a man’s disastrous capacity as witnessed via holocaust and other atomic warfare had sparked off a restructuring of the relevance in art. The other gestural and organic forms of Abstract Expressionism were a result of the surrealism of the years of pre-war, similarly like the art of the 1950’s era, which held a place of prominence for almost a decade.
Further, the art of 1960’s also witnessed an innovative restructuring, which was based upon a change in theoretical, social and other various political practices. The stirring art of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s found relevance in “the necessity of reconstituting the object as art.” Moreover, a new stress upon the object, the adjuration of the allusion as well as metaphor, also finds its traces in several movements of the 60’s as well as 70’s. The conventional and traditional forms of painting and sculpture had also undergone a transformation. Moreover, the artistic expression of new forms of Fluxes and Conceptual Art also witnessed a restructuring. In 1960’s and 1970’s, the Post – Minimalism and Minimalism as well as the land art forms of sculpture came into existence. These underwent a complete transformation in terms of perception, form and structure. The contemporary concepts of sculpture were contributed by each movement, individually. Minimalism being the first among the movements, called to question the various traditional concepts of spatial concerns, figuration and the originality of the artist. Moreover, by conducting an investigation of the change in the form as well as to how the change in the minimalist sculpture was viewed upon, it’s evident that the most vital challenge to the traditional concepts of sculpture were provided by Minimalism and further, these also served as the effects on the aesthetics of Post-Minimalism and Land Art.
Minimalism helped in bringing the concepts of sculpture which were traditional in nature, so as to understand the challenge. It made the understanding of the arts under the category of Minimalism. The beginning of Minimalism in the year 1960’s was a jargon which was associated with 5 various artists:- Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Dan Flavin, Carl Andre, and Sol LeWitt. In spite of the fact that the work of all the artists had same and general attributes, none of them accepted the title of “Minimalist”, probably for the reason that it connoted a reduction in the form. Further, the attributes which governed the Minimalist art were theoretical as well as formal as minimalism stripped the personal forms, gestures and focus on the object. The changes towards essential and strong forms was a denial of the illusory and the descriptive work during 1950’s and was further expressed via using geometric and other rigid patterns. Since the symmetrical and geometrical are the kind of forms which are easily perceived in one’s mind, Morris states that the stress upon Geometric was a pretty natural tendency while one drives towards a higher concreteness.
The evolution from the gestural and illusory forms during the 1950 does justify the three dimensionality of Minimalist art. In his essay “Specific Objects”, Donald Judd tells that the three-dimensionality of works forms an original space and also removes the obstacle of illusion which is found in the conventional forms of European artistic tradition. Though the application of perspective helps in creating an allusion of space in the painting, the three dimensional forms on the other hand, help in removing every kind of allusion, thereby just leaving behind the object. Judd’s ideas were not new concepts entirely. The concern of Minimalist for the object got originated in flags and targets of Jasper Johns who discarded the figure-ground relationship which was found in the traditional paintings by making the extension of the object represented at the canvas’ edges and by blurring the lines in between the objects and subjects represented. The discarding of the figure ground relationship was done by Frank Stella who deployed the notion that a painting is just what one sees and his painting was based upon the same.
Judd and Stella also laid emphasis upon the sentiment of wholeness in their work. The whole idea for Stella was a complete visual work and to view the whole idea was to view the paint on the canvas. Donald Judd’s work on the other hand required maintenance of a sense of wholeness, which he believed was lacking in the traditional form of sculptures. Judd in his writings on new sculptures of 1960’s asserts that the image, shape, surface and color are not scattered or dispersed, but are rather single in the Minimalist sculpture. Further, there are no moderations in parts and areas, as well as any sort of transitional and connections areas. Nothing is neutral as well. Judd also worked upon the simple and plain forms in order to create unity in the pieces. Moreover, his notion of wholeness via structure and form was also exemplified in the year 1969. Despite the fact that the work comprised ten separate forms which were attached to the wall, all the forms were regarded and read as one piece. The unity to work is also provided by monochrome copper surface as well as the geometric form’s repetition. Further, the space in between the mounted units reverberate the measurements of ten copper forms and are read as an element of the sculpture. The Untitled 1969 still remains like an object, inhabiting the three dimensional area of the gallery.
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During the 1960s, Judd laid stress on the three-dimensionality as well as a prominent aspect of the aesthetic minimalist sculptural, which was involved with the extremely popular theoretical and philosophical practices of structuralism and phenomenology during 60’s. Further, the investigation of the functions of a form in space and that how a human being’s behavior is resolved by different structures was the basic aspect of the minimalist sculpture. Moreover, Minimalism not only focused upon both, the object as well as how an art object is ancillary to its environment, context and placement for its reception and meaning.
Minimalist sculpture and its relationship with the spatial environment is probably the most profound challenge which the Minimalism had presented to already existing ideas of sculpture. Minimalism left the focus on verticality by fully discarding the plinth and focused on the horizontality of forms, unlike the traditional sculptures which were represented as abiding their very space on the plinth. The shocking work by Carl Andre, Equivalent 1966 had replaced the plinth with a certain sculpture which re-echoed the shape of plinth. The sculpture abolishes the traditional beliefs of vertical, upright and figurative representation of the sculpture, as it is made from mass produced firebricks and is placed in horizontal rows. The viewer can inhabit the temporary space, as its placed on the floor directly and is also removed from the plinth for there remains no spatial difference in the gallery floor, the art work and the space inhabited by the onlooker.
By eliminating the base and shifting the directionality of sculpture, Minimalism drastically altered the relationship not only between the sculpture and the surrounding space but also the relationship between the sculpture and the viewer. Minimalist sculpture also examined various other phenomenological sensations via structure and material of work, apart from exploring the spatial relationships and three dimensionality. Dan Flavin makes use of light to create space and to articulate in his work Monument for V. Tatlin, 1966. Flavin examines the creation as well as continuing of the space via elaborate plays on shadow and light. The sculptures castes a phenomenological affect on the onlooker as the effects of color and light changes the space which is inhabited by the sculpture.
Monument for V. Tatlin, 1966 highlights the interest of Minimalist in using new industrial materials similarly Like Andre’s Equivalent VIII, 1966, but it also lacks specificity of origin. The materials produced in mass such as metal sheets, fluorescent bulbs and firebricks aided the Minimalist artists in creating works where the artist’s presence was obscure. The Minimalist aesthetic tends to be inclined towards an artist’s persona, unlike Abstract Expressionism. It was geared more towards the artist’s absence and also offered a thorough disconnection in between the work and the artist. The Minimalist artists Donald Judd and Sol Le Witt created a sculpture with the approach of anti-rationalism where the expressions of the artist were the most important, rather than the way of expressing them. Perhaps this was the influence of the 1979’s Barthes text Death of the Author. The impersonality of the Minimalist aesthetic is exemplified by the Five Open Geometric Structures. Sol LeWitt, in his work has maintained a notion of impersonality by carving detailed instructions of the art works which are needed to be carried out by his assistants. LeWitt also created instructions for the forms in the Five Open Geometric Structures, but he didn’t took part in any of the aspect of their construction. The artist’s correlation with the work was eliminated completely, thus leading to a drastic makeover of the artist’s physical presence in the work of Jackson Pollock and the Abstract Expressionists. For claiming Minimalism as one of the most fundamental affront of the traditional sculpture, it is necessary to also examine Minimalism in the historical context which is much wider. During the 1960’s Minimalism was regarded as the new sculpture. It was also essential to recognize that the contents of Minimalism were also present in the earlier as well as the other artistic movements. The focus of Minimalism’s on the object was a notion which was also pioneered by Jasper Johns. Exploring the space and other scenarios can also be traced to various other artists and sculptors, which also include Anthony Caro, the one who challenged traditional sculpture’s verticality. The boxes of Joseph Cornell were not similar to that of Donald Judd’s cubes as far as exploring the phenomenological was concerned as the former was working on smaller scale. Minimalism was made fundamental by the combination of the ideas that were brought forth via earlier forms of sculpture and the fact that the combination of these ideas was manifested in just a single aesthetic sculpture. Therefore the notions of visual and form perception were brought together by Minimalism, which at the same time also examined the philosophical and theoretical guidelines of anti-rationalism, phenomenology and structuralism, by making use of the new industrial materials. The Land art can also be read as highly fundamental sculpture during 60’s and 70’s, if the association of phenomenological with immensity is recalled, in spite of the formal differences of traditional sculpture and a reference to the ecological movements and the contemporary environment.
By determining the impact of Minimalism upon Post-Minimalist movements of the late 60’s and 70’s as well as Land Art, it is evident that though Minimalism was deprived off its stimulus during the late 1960’s, the reactions as well as the ideas of the movement afflicted the forms which were assumed by the later sculpture. Morris in his essay Notes on Sculpture, explains that art undergoes constant changes in its structure and perception. His notion of the perpetual change is considered the best way of examining a basic impact of Minimalism upon the traditional notions of sculpture. The emergence of minimalism during 1960’s also witnessed a rise of civil rights and feminist liberation. However, despite a change in the form, the idea of the process and the Vietnam war was regarded as a completely different era unlike the consumer -oriented and the conservative one. The 1960’s object of primary importance was replaced by the notion of fragment and process. Minimalism had to suffer due to a restructuring of the probable relevance of the object. However in spite of the change in the form and implementing the new materials, the creations after 1960’s used the knowhow of Minimalist aesthetic and hence the involvement and understanding of Minimalism and Land Artist , as well as Post-Minimalists describes the influence of radical Minimalism for creation of sculptures during the 1960’s and 70’s era.
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