Minimalism in Art – The Influence of Its Artists and Works

Minimalism art is the simplest form of art, but not always as you would imagine it would be.  These artists use drawings, paintings, photographs, and even sculptures to create the simplest, purest form of art expression through simplicity.

Minimalism in art is drawings, paintings, and more defined by simple lines, little color, and beautiful designs.  Characteristics of minimalism art include simplicity, basic elements, monochromatic, and full of meaning yet devoid of emotion.

You’ve probably heard of minimalism, minimalist wardrobes, and minimalism in homes, but have you heard about minimalism art?  What do you think is the appeal of minimalism art that makes it so sought after?

What Is Minimalism in Art?

Minimalism in art is defined by clean and simple lines, little to no color, and some really beautiful designs and pictures.  Minimalism in art does not imitate anything, it is pure and includes drawings, paintings, photographs, and sculptures.  It consists only on the essential forms, features, and concepts.  As noted by Kemal Tizgol from the International Journal of Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Art, minimalism artists have purified their works to be nothing beyond themselves, to be free of non-visual associations and thoughts.

Grey on black - Minimalism Artists - Gone Minimal
Grey on black

What Are the Characteristics of Minimalism Art?

Minimalism in art focuses on essentials and simplicity to create beauty.  According to Lovisa Carlsson of the Umea University in Sweden, minimalism in art is reducing designs to the most important elements.  Characteristics of minimalism art include the following:

  • Basic elements
  • Repeated images and geometric forms
  • Little to no visible brushstrokes
  • Monochromatic, or few colors
  • Minimal in forms and lines
  • No emotions
  • Contemplative, full of meaning, yet relaxing

When thinking of art you probably most often picture abstract expressionism, with varied shapes and colors and textures as well as colors, and sometimes you don’t even see objects you can recognize.  The artists express themselves and their personal experiences through their artwork.  This is pretty opposite of minimalism art, which lacks emotion, color, texture, and personal experience.

The artists express themselves and their personal experiences through their artwork.  This is pretty opposite of minimalism art, which lacks emotion, color, texture, and personal experience.

Types of Minimalism Art

Minimalism as an art movement includes a wide range of approaches and meanings. While these categories help provide an overview, there is an overlap between different types of minimalist art. The core principle remains, however, to simplify and reduce.

There are several different types of minimalism art to choose from.  Let’s take a look at a few categories and talk about what those look like.

Minimal painting - Minimalism Artists - Gone Minimal
Minimal painting

Minimalism Wall Art

Minimalism wall art can vary widely from a single scribbled black line in paint to the monochromatic silhouette of a female figure.  It can also have a few colors that are similar with contrasting shapes.  Minimalism wall art can even be a collection of line drawings to pull together a space without bringing too much color or attention to a wall.

Line Minimalism Art

Line minimalism art is just that-lines.  Straight or scribbled, thick or thin, with or without form, line minimalism art is a great way to add décor to a room while keeping that uncluttered, simple feel.  This form of minimalism art can even bring in a splash of color to tie in with an accent pillow or just match with the legs of your kitchen table.

Minimalism Art Paintings

Minimalism art paintings can also vary widely-from a bright red circle on a black background to a series of brightly colored canvases.  There are recognizable shapes like flowers and leaves as well as just geometric designs.  Whether you choose something monochromatic or something with a bit more interest, minimalism art paintings can make an impact on any room.

Minimal photograhy - Minimalism in Art - Gone Minimal
Minimal photograhy

Minimalism Art Movements

Just as with types of minimalism art, there are distinct differences in the minimalism art movements.  Let’s review contemporary and post minimalism and look at how they differ.

Contemporary Minimalism Art

Contemporary minimalism art is characterized by geometry, precise and rigid lines, and a pretty strict color palette.  Some pieces in this movement include a carved wooden piece made to look like a primitive ladder, a negative space with a scratched out white rectangle, a simple tracing of a monstera leaf in brown on a light brown background, and even a shiny metal box.  This movement focused on materials and the relationship that exists between these objects and the person viewing them.

Post Minimalism Art

The post minimalism art movement began late in the 1960s and was basically against minimalism art at that time, which focused on geometric forms that were closed.  Post minimalism is characterized by more interesting shapes like crosses and stars, more complex forms like brightly colored rectangles enveloping ovals, as well as softly colored wide stripes on canvas.  It seems less harsh than the contemporary form of minimalism art and adds a great deal of interest to a room.

Minimal still life - Minimalism in Art - Gone Minimal
Minimal still life

Popular Minimalism Artists

Minimalism Artist Frank Stella (Famous for Black Paintings) 1959

Frank Stella is known for black stripe paintings that earned immediate recognition for him in 1959.  An American artist, he has created increasingly dynamic and complicated pieces over time, and his work is very experimental.  His minimalism art has you seeing not a 2D painting but a 3D space.  Stella’s focus is on colors and basic elements in order to create symmetrical patterns with optical effects.

Minimalism Artist Carl Andre (Sculptor; Famous for Equivalent VIII) 1966

Carl Andre, a conceptual artist from America, is known for his minimalist sculptures.  He used industrial design and his experience in blue collar-type jobs to create sculptures made of wood, brick, and other interesting raw materials.  He helped define the minimalist art movement and defined art as “the exclusion of the unnecessary”.

Minimalism Artist Donald Judd (American Sculptor; Famous for Untitled) 1972

Donald Judd rejected the label of his work as minimalist.  Also an American artist, he used square shapes and bright colors with simple line drawings to create his paintings.  His work in the 1960s New York exhibition “Primary Structures” is what brought him into the popular artists’ scene.  In the late 1980s all of his works were black, and in the 1990s it was all bright colors.

Minimal texture art - Minimalism in Art - Gone Minimal
Minimal texture art

Minimalism Artist Sol LeWitt (Famous for Wall Drawing 439) 1985

LeWitt came into the art world in the 1960s with a range of materials from drawing to photography.  He is known for both minimalism and conceptual artwork, with his best pieces being his wall drawings which he drew directly on walls with various media.  All of his works were mathematically balanced and simply creative.

Minimalism Artist Agnes Martin (Famous for White Flower) 1960

Martin, a Canadian-born artist, spent most of her time in Taos, New Mexico creating paintings and sculptures that ranged from simple monochromatic painted grids and broken lines on canvas (like White Flower) to tiny multicolored rectangles.  Her style varied from abstract expressionism to minimalism in art.

Related Insights

How Do You Make Minimalist Art?

To make minimalist art, begin with the simplest design.  You won’t need a whole array of colors or even mediums, but a simple design in mind that gets the point across.  Don’t try to think of complex meanings or abstract complexities, keep it simple.

What Is Minimalism Technique?

The minimalism technique is getting the most meaning out of minimal aesthetic.  This applies not only to artwork and sculpture but décor, wardrobe, furniture, home, and life.  Minimalism technique is about focusing on the things that matter and doing more with less.

What Is the Focus of Minimalist Art?

The focus of minimalist art is usually just the art.  There are no hidden meanings, nothing to interpret, and nothing to figure out.  Minimalist art is just about beauty in simplicity.

Check out some of the top minimalist artists in this informative video.

How Familiar Are People With Minimalism Art/Artists?

I asked 5 friends/family members 1) Are they familiar with minimalism in Art? 2) If yes, I asked them to list their favorite piece or artist. 3) If no, I asked them if they want to learn more about minimalism in art. Here is what they shared and what I learned from the poll:

Minimalist Art & Familiarity Tally of Family/Friends
No, not interested in art3
No, not interested in learning3
No, but interested in learning2
Yes, no favorites2
Yes, lifesavers series1
Yes, red yellow blue1
Yes, Frank Stella2
Yes, Robert Morris1

Other Resources:

Minimalism art is beauty in simplicity.  This style of artwork is simple and uncomplicated and to be taken at face value.  You don’t have to interpret, translate, or even feel with minimalism art.  What type of minimalism art would you display in your home or office?

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