Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
minimalism,schools of contemporary art and music, with their origins in the 1960s, that have emphasized simplicity and objectivity.
Minimalism in the Visual Arts
Reacting against the formal excesses and raw emotionalism of abstract expressionismabstract expressionism,
movement of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the mid-1940s and attained singular prominence in American art in the following decade; also called action painting and the New York school.
..... Click the link for more information. , the practitioners of minimal art (also sometimes called ABC art) strove to focus attention on the object as an object, reducing its historical and expressive content to the bare minimum. Many minimalist artists were sculptors concerned with reducing form to its utmost simplicity. They used flat surface colors, factory finishes, and industrial materials. The use of serial repetitions contributed to their goal. Carl AndreAndre, Carl
, 1935–, American sculptor, b. Quincy, Mass. A student of Patrick Morgan and associate of Frank Stella, Andre produces sculptures of elemental form and abstract monumentality.
..... Click the link for more information. regarded the Italian artist Enrico Castellani (1930–2017) as the father of minimalism for his monochromatic paintings, begun in the late 1950s, on canvases topographically altered by underlying rows of items. Perhaps the earliest uses of the term "minimalism" regarding art was in the essay Minimal Art (1965) by the British art theorist Richard Wollheim. American artists such as Andre, Sol LeWittLeWitt, Sol
, 1928–2007, American artist, b. Hartford, Conn. LeWitt, who came into prominence in the 1960s, termed his work conceptual art, emphasizing that the idea or concept that animates each work is its most important aspect.
..... Click the link for more information. , Robert MorrisMorris, Robert
(Robert Eugene Morris), 1931–2018, American artist, b. Kansas City, Mo., studied Kansas City Art Institute, California School of Fine Arts, Reed College. He settled in New York City in 1959.
..... Click the link for more information. , Richard SerraSerra, Richard,
1939–, American sculptor, b. San Francisco; grad. Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (B.A., 1961), Yale (B.F.A., M.F.A., 1974). Many of his early works (1960s) are cast in rubber or lead.
..... Click the link for more information. , Donald JuddJudd, Donald Clarence,
1928–94, American artist, b. Excelsior Springs, Mo. His sculpture, allied with the minimalist school of the late 1960s (see minimalism; modern art), has the appearance of industrial fabrication.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Dan FlavinFlavin, Dan
, 1933–96, American sculptor, b. New York City. In the early 1960s, Flavin experimented with fluorescent lights, bending them into complex, angular shapes.
..... Click the link for more information. were associated with the movement. The exhibition "Primary Structures," held in New York in 1966, spotlighted works of this school. Minimalism gave rise to process art, land artland art
art form developed in the late 1960s and early 70s by Robert Smithson, Robert Morris, Michael Heizer, and others, in which the artist employs the elements of nature in situ or rearranges the landscape with earthmoving equipment.
..... Click the link for more information. , performance artperformance art,
multimedia art form originating in the 1970s in which performance is the dominant mode of expression. Perfomance art may incorporate such elements as instrumental or electronic music, song, dance, television, film, sculpture, spoken dialogue, and storytelling.
..... Click the link for more information. , conceptual artconceptual art,
art movement that began in the 1960s and stresses the artist's concept rather than the art object itself. Growing out of minimalism, conceptual art turned the artist's thoughts and ideas themselves into the primary artistic medium, appealing to the spectator's
..... Click the link for more information. , and installation art.
Minimalism in Music
In music, the minimalist movement was, like minimal art, a reaction against a then-current style, with composers rejecting many of the dry intellectual complexities and the emotional sterility of serial musicserial music,
the body of compositions whose fundamental syntactical reference is a particular ordering (called series or row) of the twelve pitch classes—C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B—that constitute the equal-tempered scale.
..... Click the link for more information. and other modern compositional approaches. Generally, minimalist compositions tend to emphasize simplicity in melodic line and harmonic progression, to stress repetition and rhythmic patterns, and to reduce historical or expressive reference. The use of electronic instruments is common in minimalist music, as are influences from Asia and Africa. Among minimalist composers are the more prominent Philip GlassGlass, Philip,
1937–, American composer, b. Baltimore. Considered one of the most innovative of contemporary composers, he was a significant figure in the development of minimalism in music. Glass attended the Univ. of Chicago, Juilliard (M.A.
..... Click the link for more information. , Steve ReichReich, Steve
(Stephen Michael Reich), 1936–, American composer, b. New York City. A well-known exponent of minimalism, he attended Cornell (B.A., 1957), Juilliard (1958–61), and Mills College (M.A., 1963), where he studied with Darius Milhaud and Luciano Berio.
..... Click the link for more information. , Terry Riley, La Monte Young, and John AdamsAdams, John
(John Coolidge Adams), 1947–, American composer, b. Worcester, Mass. A clarinetist, he studied composition at Harvard (B.A. 1969, M.A. 1971). Often regarded as the most outstanding, technically adept, and influential composer of his generation, Adams has
..... Click the link for more information. and the less well-known Terry Jennings, Dennis Johnson, and Julius Eastman.
See K. Gann et al., Ashgate Research Companion to Minimalist and Postminimalist Music (2013).