Minimalist Sculpture

Posted: February 25, 2019 in Uncategorized

Tony Smith


Tony Smith
Untitled, 1960


Robert Morris
Untitled (L-Beams), 1965

Carl Andre
Steel Square, 1967


Donald Judd
Untitled, 1970

  1. Kenzie Crowley says:

    I think it is interesting to consider the fact that there are people who have become rich and famous for putting cubes into a room. Frankly, I am sad that it isn’t me creating that art.
    It is also interesting to look at the dates of all of the pieces of art. These art pieces are better known years after they were created. I think it could go back to the point that was brought up during our discussion today about how retro things are in fashion today. The minimalistic artists were ahead of their time and are becoming more well known as we view their art pieces as “retro”.

    • I think it’s very understandable to imagine we as a culture are only retrospectively discovering Minimalism today. This is probably in large measure because most of you students are only just now discovering Minimalism for yourselves. But it’s also in very large measure because Minimalism arose as a reaction against the institution of the museum and the museum’s pricincipal contents, painting and sculpture, which it sought to bring to an end. No more art, as Fried feared would become the case. Minimalist, as I struggled to say in class today, refused to respect the frame and pedestal, as well as any sense of the abstract illusions they sustained. Instead of abstract space, Minimalist works were determined to use ‘shape’ to occupy only real space, to be just a big block taking up room. As such, there was not the same market value for Minimalism as there was for abstract art. Indeed, Minimalist works scarcely leant themselves to any sort of reproduction. You couldn’t put a Tony Smith cube in your house. And yet to buy a scale model made no sense when such a miniature copy could scarcely be distinguished from a child’s toy building block. That said, Minimalism did have its moment in the spotlight, as can be seen in Tony Smith’s appearance, back in the ’60s, on the cover of Time magazine. More recently, Minimalism has made a major return in the form of Land Art, which is now all the rage, even (or especially) in Utah. We’ll read more on all that later in the semester.

    • Kenzie,

      I was glad to talk with you today. It seemed to me we were able to work together to get results that made sense to you and contributed to your overall group project.

      To sum up our discussion, we proposed a thesis suggesting that Eliot doesn’t just yell ‘critical thinking skills!’ Beyond that, he offers us, if only implicitly, various critical-thinking skills students might actually employ. The one on which we focused today was isolation; what philosophers would call ‘epoche’, or which photo editors would call ‘cropping’. Cropping is a way of viewing objects without external distractions. It’s not the only or best critical tool. But it can certainly be useful when applied intelligently and appropriately.

      This idea would serve as one of your claims. Your other two claims would then need to identify two other critical tools which Eliot’s essays provide.

      I’ll leave you and your partners to determine what two other possible tools might be. But it seems to me that you and your group now have not only momentum, but also that you are moving in the right direction.

      I hope all this is sensible and useful to you. Please stay in touch as you need.

      Good luck!

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