Minimalism Art – Connect with Beauty from My Creative Side

Minimalism has taken many forms as art, style, life choices and more but generally it boils down to eliminating all that is not essential.

Minimalism in art has closely paralleled minimalism as a concept of life, style, and design. It has been so prevalent in society that an art movement was created around the ideals of eliminating excess, and even since then new minimalist movements and aesthetics have inspired and been inspired by evolving trends. 

Let’s look at minimalism in art, and in its many other forms, exploring how this design movement has influenced decades of art and life.

How Does Minimalism Apply to Art?

Minimalism strips down what we know of art into its simplest forms, shapes and colors. The works tend to not be very “busy” visually and only contain a few key elements. These fewer elements draw the eye and allow the viewer to experiene a simple and powerful narrative of expression through art.

Superimposed minimalist art - Minimalism Art - Gone Minimal
Superimposed minimalist art

Definition of Minimalism in Art

Minimalism in art began as a response to abstract art’s goal to not depict any form of reality and that what you see is what you get. Minimalism differs from abstract art however by using less complicated composition, simpler lines and fewer colors.

What Is Minimalism?

Minimalism is anything intentionally stripped down to its bare essential elements. It is used to describe art movements, literature, interior design, architecture, and anything that is simple in design. 

What Is the Concept of Minimalism?

The concept of minimalism encompasses various aspects across different areas, including art, design, and lifestyle. Minimalism revolves around simplicity and reducing unnecessary clutter and distractions to highlight what is essential and meaningful. The concept of minimalism encourages us to focus on what’s important in life and learn a more intentional and fulfilling way of life.

What Are Characteristics of Minimalism?

The characteristics of minimalism vary from movement to movement, the rules of minimalist music don’t necessarily transfer to minimalist art or lifestyle. But generally, the characteristics boil down to stipping down any excess elements down to only what is necessary.

What Is the Goal of Minimalism?

The goal is to find what we most value and rid ourselves of everything else. Some view it as excess, some as clutter, some as business, but when that is stripped away, all there will be left is the bare essentials which hold far more value.

What Is an Example of Minimalism?

As it relates to lifestyle, minimalism might be getting rid of any clutter in your home: clothes you rarely wear, food you buy because you might eat it, photos, books, records that you keep for no real reason, and especially gifts from friends and family that are piling up in your closet. Its taking the time to assess what you have and what you really need.

Is Minimalism a Trend?

Minimalism, even without that exact word, has been around for a very long time though it has become more popular especially on social media. The aesthetics of minimalism have become a trend, but true minimalism can’t simply be a trend as it is a lifestyle.

How Does Minimalism Apply to Art?

Minimalism is a movement in art that directly follows abstraction. They used abstract artist’s idea that art should stand on its own and not reference or relate to anything in the physical world. In other words, there shouldn’t be any recognizable figures or objects apart from color and shapes. Minimalism took that and expanded it to, there shouldn’t be anything more than just color and shape as they are–no added lines, no excess color. They strip down the art to the basics of shape and color and nothing else. 

What Does Minimalism Mean in Art?

Minimalism in art means there is no attempt to imitate the outside world and no attempt to represent reality. Minimalist artists don’t want viewers to bring in outside references, rather they want viewers to see the work that is directly in front of them and only that. The catchphrase of minimalists was, “what you see is what you see.” There are no references to reality and everything is stripped down to its bare essential form.

What Are the Characteristics of Minimalist Art?

SimplicityMinimalist artists take simplicity to its extreme, often not going further than simple geometric shapes or using more than one color. 
LiteralismAnother term for minimalist art is literal art. This is in reference to the works not referencing anything outside the canvas itself.
AwarenessMinimalist art aims to bring awareness to the work of art and nothing outside of it. This is why the artists don’t depict humans or animals or landscapes in minimal art so when the viewer is in front of the work the only thing to recognize is the art itself.
RepetitionMuch of minimalism uses pre-fabricated materials or mass produced materials which made repetition not only easier for the minimalists than earlier art movements, but an essential part of the movement. Repetition within a space also creates a rhythm which in turn keeps the viewer with the work of art contemplating and following the rhythm. 

What Is the Point of Minimalist Art?

Minimalism attempts to explore the essentials in artistic form. Artists strip down what we had previously known of art like depictions of people or landscapes to the simple shapes and color into a purely visual piece. The minimalists aim to ask, is it still art if it’s not depicting reality?

Who Is the Father of Minimalism in Art? (Enrico Castillani)

Enrico Castillani was a part of the ZERO group of artists in the mid 20th century and the goal of the group was to shift focus from the subject of a work of art to the materials and the world in which those materials exist. Enrico Castillani was a big influence on the art of Donal Judd who is seen as the founding father of minimalist art.

Minimalism attempts to explore the essentials in artistic form.

Is Modern Art Minimalism?

Minimalist art is modern, but not all modern art is minimalism. Modern art includes many different art movements such as impressionism, abstraction, performance art, and many more

Is Conceptual Art Minimalism?

There is a lot of overlap between conceptual art and minimalist art but there is one subtle but important distinction. Minimalism wants the viewer to focus on the art in front of them, the materials that made it and the shapes and colors they see. The art is the object in front of you. For conceptual art, the focus is on the idea that created the piece rather than the piece itself.

What Is a Gestalt in Minimalist Art?

Gestalt is a german term meaning unified whole. In minimalist art it refers to all the part of a work of art working together to make a unified whole including the environment, the materials, the colors and shapes, and the artist’s intention.

How Did Minimalist Art Get Started?

Minimalism began in the late 1950s as artists began to turn away from the gestural works of their predecessors. The artists who were part of the movement aimed to challenge the elitist rules that dictated what was and was not considered art. 

Minimalism Art History

Minimalism emerged in New York in the late 1950s among artists who were choosing to renounce recent art they thought had become stale and academic. The works emphasized anonymity of the artist by eliminating any biographical suggestions and often used industrial materials, avoiding overt symbolism and emotional content.

Minimalists thought of previous art movements as being too much about the artist and not enough about the works of art themselves and in creating works of art that, theoretically, anyone could do while still being accepted as a work of art. 

Minimalism Art Timeline

The movement began in the late 50s and rose to prominence in the 60s and 70s. Minimalism is heavily influenced by Constructivism, De Stijl, and Dada readymades in their use of industrial, mass-produced materials, geometric and simplistic shapes, and simple use of color.

They aimed to stray from the heroic subjectivity of their predecessors the abstract expressionists and focused on the work of art rather than the artist. Minimalism arguably began when Frank Stella’s Black Paintings were exhibited at MoMA in 1959 and continued with Donal Judd’s sculptures in the mid 60s. From there, artists like Robert Morris wrote minimalist manifestos, popularizing the terms and ideas. 

Here is a video that provides some great insights into the Minimalism art movement:

Best Places to Buy Minimalist Art

1.  The Artling

The Artling is a contemporary art platform featuring Asia/South East Asia’s best artists. Artists must be invited to have their art on the site so as a buyer, you know the art has been thoroughly curated. Buyers can organize art based on style, size, price and more. All works of art include the artist statement and the works can be paid for in installments. 

2.  Etsy

Buying art on Etsy can be great because oftentimes the works are done by smaller artists. They might not have as large a platform to be able to sell on bigger sites so as a buyer you know you are supporting an artist directly. The art tends to be prints and therefore are cheaper than buying the works of art themselves and sometimes smaller artists get drowned out by current trends. But when you do find a work of art you like it is very worth it to buy through Etsy.

3.  Saatchi Art

Saatchi is a curated online art gallery that sells art from artists all over the world. They feature over 60,000 artists and have art that can suit any budget. You can sort art by movement, style, size, price and more. They also have sections for new upcoming artists, curated collections and they offer prints of most of the art sold on their site. 

Helpful Insights:

Types of Art

Pop Art 

Pop art is based on modern popular culture and mass media such as comics, advertisements, and magazines,  especially as a critical or ironic comment on traditional fine art values. It began in the UK in the 1950s and relies on appropriating imagery from popular culture. Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein are among the more famous pop artists of their time. 

Art Deco

Art Deco is a decorative art movement from the 1920s and 30s characterized by bold geometric lines and strong shapes and color. The movement began in France just before the first world war and heavily influenced architecture, furniture, and decor. Louis Comfort Tiffany, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Ethel Hays are some well known Art Deco artists.

Art gallery goers viewing minimalism art - Minimalist Art - Gone Minimal
Art gallery goers viewing minimalist art

Modern Art

Modern art includes the artistic movements from about the 1860s-1970s. It encapsulates many movements such as impressionism, cubism, fauvism, minimalism, pop art, and many many more. Art made during this time showcases artists’ interest in re-imagining, reinterpreting, and rejecting traditional aesthetic values of earlier styles. Famous modern artists include Picasso, Van Gogh, Kahlo, Matisse, Carrington, and more.

Conceptual Art

Conceptual art, or Conceptualism is art in which the concept or idea involved in the work takes priority over traditional aesthetic, technical, and material concerns. The artist’s intention for their work tends to be more important than the actual work itself. The movement emerged in the 1960s but has roots back to Dadaism of the early 1900s. Famous Conceptual artists include Marcel Duchamp, Yoko Ono, Sol Lewitt, Jenny Holzer, and more.

“Expressio” (Expressionism)

Expressionism is a movement of art that began with poetry and painting in the early 1900s. It’s main trait is the presentation of a highly subjective work of art that expresses a specific moment or world view of the artist. The effect on the viewer is meant to be highly emotional and reactive as they can empathize with the artist’s feelings. Some Expressionists are Edvard Munch, Wassily Kandinsky, Egon Shiele, and more. 

Famous Minimalist Artists

Frank Stella

Frank Stella is a minimalist artist from Massachsetts who exhibited some of the first minimalist paintings in public at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He became known for his hard edged paintings because his art mainly featured lines with hard straight edges. He also used acrylic paint which was still a relatively new medium in the mid 20th century. Stella is still alive and living in New York, his art has become less minimalist as movements have shifted but he is still seen as one of the first minimalists. 

Donald Judd

Donald Judd is seen as the father of the minimalist movement though he has tried to move away from the movement himself. He worked with new materials such as plastics and acrylics to create sculptures. Judd cared about how art interacts with a space and saw the space that a work existed in as being just as important as the work itself. 

Agnes Martin

Agnes Martin was an American abstract painter. She is often referred to as a minimalist, but considered herself to be an abstract expressionist. She is known for her square canvases with meticulously drawn lines and grids and repeated stripes. Martin thought of her own works as a study in the pursuit of perfection. 

Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly was an American painter, sculptor, and printmaker who, like Stella, is heavily associated with hard edge painting. His abstract colors and forms were sharply defined and though his art certainly looks a lot like minimalist work, he preceded the movement by about a decade. 

Other Resources:

Minimalism didn’t begin with the art movement but the artist who participated certainly brought minimalism as a concept more into the public eye. When the art movement began, it was met with a lot of criticism for being overly simplistic. It still is in many ways–how often do we hear museum goers saying “my kindergartner could paint that.” But the movement opened up art to new forms of expression and understanding of what can count as art. 

Related Topics:

What Is the Basic Focus of Minimalist Art?

Minimalist art focuses mostly on line, shape, and color, typically being monochromatic or only having a few key elements. One way to identify minimalist art is to look for hard edges and straight lines with very little blending of color.

Is Minimalism Going Out of Style?

Minimalism, like all movements and trends, tends to come and go with changing tastes and aesthetics. There will always be a niche for minimalism and the people who enjoy it even if it is not the most popular. 

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