By the term Minimal Art, art historians designate a form of abstract art, nowadays better known by the broader term Minimalism. Generally, Minimal Art refers to a period in the 1960s and early 1970s. People talk about artists such as Donald Judd and Sol Lewitt. Minimalism in a broader sense extends beyond visual art, and there are many artists, designers and architects today whose work can be referred to as minimalist. There are also artists who created work related to what later became Minimal Art even before World War II.
Minimalist art employs simple forms and compositions, reduced to their essence. For example, the repetition and spacing of lines, planes and/or volumes creates a perception in the viewer that transcends the perception of physical form. Minimal Art is still a major influence on architecture and design today.
TEFAF art fair
During our visit to the TEFAF (fine art fair) in Maastricht, we art lovers were able to indulge ourselves. The fair offers a very wide range of artworks and artifacts, superbly presented in a beautiful setting. From old masters, through Picasso, Braque, Chagall and Miró to contemporary artists. Our focus during the visit was on modern art and design. We could admire many works of art classified as Minimal Art or related to it.
Minimal Art predecessors
One interesting work of art that caught our eye was César Domela’s 1923 “Portrait of My Father. For a time, he created artworks strongly related to his more famous contemporary Mondrian. To what extent did Mondrian develop into a precursor of Minimal Art in the 1930s and 1940s? Piero Manzoni’s artwork Achrome consists of pebbles on canvas and was realized in the 1960s, though. Manzoni’s art was mostly conceptual in nature where he questioned the status of art and the artist.
From 1966 comes the artwork “Concetto Spaziale, Attese” by Lucio Fontana. It is one of his works in which he makes cuts in the canvas with a knife. As such, the canvas is not a carrier of the artwork but part of it. The act of cutting into the canvas is part of the artwork, making Fontana a founder of performance art that flourished in the 1970s. Slightly more recent is a painting by Yun Hyong-Keun from the introspective Umber series. These works are characterized by dark earthy surfaces with blurred transitions.
Two other works of art that speak to us are by Pierre Soulages and Carlos Cruz-Diez, respectively. Coulages painted the dark gray canvas with strips of black acrylic paint in 2015 at the age of 95. The geometric shapes in Venezuelan Cruz-Diez’s 1970 work unfold before the viewer as they move along the artwork. Consequently, people consider his work to be kinetic art or op-art, a movement characterized by optical illusions.