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Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is stripped down to its most fundamental features. In other fields of art, it has been used to describe the novels of Ernest Hemingway, the plays of Samuel Beckett, the films of Robert Bresson, the stories of Raymond Carver (called the King of Minimalism), and even the automobile designs of Colin Chapman.

As a specific movement in the arts it is identified with developments in post-World War II Western Art, most strongly with the visual arts, for example the paintings of Mark Rothko. The term has expanded to encompass a movement in music which features repetition and iteration, for example the music of Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Terry Riley. (See also Post-Minimalism). It is rooted in the spare aspects of Modernism, and is often associated with Postmodernism and reaction against Expressionism in both painting and composition.

The term "minimalist" can also refer to anything which is spare, stripped to its essentials, or providing only the outline of structure, independent of the particular art movement, and "minimalism" the tendency to reduce to fundamentals. It is sometimes applied to groups or individuals practicing asceticism and the reduction of physical possessions and needs to a minimum. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimalism [Mar 2006]

Visual minimalism

Visual minimalism: A minimalist painting, for example, will typically use a limited number of colours, and have a simple geometric design. Among the most notable minimalists in the visual arts are Frank Stella, Donald Judd and Carl Andre (See List of minimalist artists). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimalism [2004]

Minimal in the arts

Art term used to describe the movements in art and design that strive for simplification and reduction of complexity. Ideally, minimal designs use only the simple forms of cubes and spheres, plain, unornamented surfaces, and solid colors. The products of the German firm of Braun, are closely tied to the concepts of minimalism.


  1. Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the Sixties - James Sampson Meyer [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    James Meyer, exploring the debate over artists like Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, Anne Truitt, Robert Morris and Dan Flavin in Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the Sixties, attempts to make sense of minimalism as an artistic moment. Meyer (editor of Minimalism) points out that, at first, the term "minimalism" was derogatory, implying that the art was too reduced and abstract. In the late '60s, the label lost its stigma as the work was widely recognized by major museums, and minimalist art headed toward canonization. Meyer analyzes that process as well as the backlash against minimalism by leftists, especially in Europe, who associated it with American cultural imperialism. He also places minimalist art in a broader cultural context, noting the stripped-down, austere sensibility that prevailed in '60s fashion and design, making the book attractive to anyone who enjoys cultural history. 130 b&w, 30 color photos. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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