The effects and influence of minimalism--the art movement in which artists removed personal expression and decorative detail from their work--continue to be felt today as art produced by its proponents continues to be exhibited and artists continue to use the style.
The great movements of modern art, among them Impressionism, Surrealism, Cubism, and Abstract Expressionism, have challenged rather than accommodated critics and public. None more so than Minimalism, which unrelentingly questioned not only the nature of art, but also the place of art in society-especially the capitalist society of the United States.Beginning in the 1960s, artists like Frank Stella, Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, Robert Smithson, Walter De Maria, Richard Serra, Keith Sonnier, Eva Hesse, Robert Grosvenor, and Joel Shapiro reacted against what they saw as the flamboyance of Abstract Expressionism, seeking instead materials, forms, and procedures that explicitly do not convey the personal touch of the fabricator.
Many observers have judged the artworks that resulted obstinately cerebral and unapproachable-or, worse, barren beyond the point of tedium.Others have recognized that these works are, in fact, revolutionary, embodying an elemental immediacy unprecedented in Western art. Giving no quarter to complacent illusion and habits of perception, the Minimalists pushed aesthetic thought deeply into the crust of unexamined ideas that most of us take for granted as cultural terra firma.
In this volume, illustrated with works ranging from small-scale sculpture and hermetic paintings to vast "earthworks," Kenneth Baker, the award-winning art critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, explores the history and challenge of Minimalism in the context not only of the trends it succeeded, but of those that have succeeded it.
Minimalism: Art of Circumstance is one of those rare essays of critical insight that combine a comprehensive point of view with a revisionist spirit; for, in unfolding the history of his subject, Baker finally challenges the very notion of a "minimalist movement." The result is provocative, and in today's wildly pluralistic post-modern art world, this volume is living history-in fact, required reading.