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Arguing against minimalism, and the notion that – less is more

Arguing against minimalism, and the notion that – less is more

admin / January 31, 2019

1. Introduction

I am a casual fine art enthusiast like majority of the people and I highly appreciate majority of the art movements such as the modernized impressionism, cubism or surrealism. There is a mystery behind minimalism, which I fail to understand. Minimalism is a unique type of art that one can easily fail to understand and be pleased.

It is a presentation made of simple arcs or shapes arranged in series to form a pattern may be overwhelming but an unbearable collection, if one is not able to find content that they can positively receive. This paper wills try to analyze minimalism in the aim of finding meaning and probable appreciation.

2. Definition of Minimalism

From a personal point of view as an art professional learner, the definition of minimalism in art has basis on the “Less is more” concept. In most cases, this 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 basic shapes such as the geometric shapes or elements of art.

Common minimalism involves sculptural figures that have been reduced to structures made, drawn or painted from basic geometrical shapes (Obendorf, 2009, p.310).

Through my personal interest to learn more about minimalism, I found some sense in the work and appreciated common and favourite artists of the style such as Dan Flavin, Richard Serra and Donald Judd.

3. Concept of Minimalism Artwork

According to Meyer (2010, p.18), In order to appreciate minimalists’ artwork such as Dan Flavin’s collection, there is need to remain open-minded and accept any new ideas which might meet the requirements as art. From a personal point of view, very few people are able to have such kind of reaction over fine artwork. Critical analysis of specific objects or shapes in a collection is also very important (Meyer, 2010, p.18).

Most up-coming art professionals, artwork admirers and those pleased about general art will often perceive the contents in a collection or as a complete form just like a painting, drawing or a sculpture. Minimalists on the other hand perceive objects as single entities detached from the main work (Meyer, 2010, p.18).

4. Examples of Minimalism

A good example of minimalism is the “Tilted Arc” done by a renowned artist, Richard Serra. The artwork was a gigantic 12-foot high steel tilted to an angle as its reference phrase indicates (Kleiner, 2009, p.792). The sculpture was set up at New York’s Federal Plaza but was later brought down due to negative public debate.

Arguably, the public could not understand the artwork especially when they had various views from ether sides, thus the controversies. It was taken apart since people did not appreciate. The sculpture represented a different effect depending on the side of view. The confusion brought out by contractions and expansions depending on the position of the viewer changed the entire environment.

From an artistic point of view, the sculpture made the viewer to be aware of his/her movements. This is an indication that simple art objects are detachable from the entire form to interact with the viewer, and thus assist in defining their movements through the plaza.

This type of interaction is mainly found in minimalism especially in sculptural work. The simple shapes are the key pieces that enhance change and results to a form of interaction with the viewer. The pieces determine the feeling and perception of the viewer during interaction (Buskirk, 2005, p.22).

Placing basic shapes individually such as geometric shapes, lines or arcs, presents a collection of boring objects. When the same shapes are merged to form an art form, they interact with the viewer due to dynamism of shapes from various angles. They pieces therefore become more powerful and influences one’s movement around the artwork, thus altering perception or feeling.

Minimalism may not have similar effects as other common artworks, but the viewer is able to feel some effect from the collection. Another good example of minimalism belongs to Dan Flavin who had a strategic setup of coloured florescent tubes to form a collection (Marzona and Grosenick, 2004, p.48). Different colours of the fluorescents formed an interaction between the lighting.

The lighting interacted with the observer. Colourful lighting combined with simple but dynamic shapes presents a delightful effect that can easily alter moods. Common application of this artwork is in our home where we decorate our rooms with glowing glass light sheds. Spectacular effects are achievable from very simple by combined elements; therefore, ‘less is more’.

5. Effects of Minimalism

Unlike other common artworks such as drawings or paintings, minimalism has more effects that are negative because it requires the observer to act or respond in order to understand and appreciate. One has to be part of the artwork to realize the artist’s message.

The drawings, paintings and defined sculptures are easy to appreciate without necessarily understanding the artist’s motive or theme, because the technicality is evident.

With minimalism, it is not easy to appreciate an oval, a cube or a splash of paint on the surface. It is intimidating to have a collection of basic shapes and convince people there is artwork when, characteristic theme is not visible.

6. Conclusion

Regardless of the rejection, minimalism receives; it is possible to overcome the intimidation. The basic pieces used in this form of art have a close link to life than the typical or general paintings or drawings.

The only problem is that the link is more hidden and one must interact with the art to find meaning or inspiration.

With powerful interest and concentration on objects made from minimalism, one can understand or appreciate the exclusivity of the work. Te interaction means that minimalism is able to fulfil true success of an artwork, which is interaction with the viewer.

Works Cited

Buskirk, Martha. The Contingent Object of Contemporary Art. Massachusetts MA:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Press, 2005. Print.

Kleiner, Fred S. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: The Western Perspective.

Massachusetts, MA: Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.

Marzona, Daniel and Grosenick, Uta. Minimal art. New York, NY: Taschen, 2004.

Meyer, James. Minimalism. New York, NY: Phaidon Press, Incorporated, 2010. Print.

Obendorf, Hartmut. Minimalism: Designing Simplicity. New York, NY: Springer Press. 2009. Print.

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