Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- This article is about minimalism in art and design. For the linguistic meaning of "Minimalism" see Transformational grammar.
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, and even the automobile designs of Colin Chapman, among others.
Minimalism in visual art
A minimalist painting, for example, will typically use a limited number of colors, and have a simple geometric design. Minimalist sculpture on the other hand is greatly focused on the materials (see David Smith and Donald Judd). While many believe minimalism to be a movement specific to geometric representations, it extends far outside this constraint.
There were three notable phases of the minimalist movement:
First the distillation of the forms wherein the greatest contributors were probably the Russian Constructivists and the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brāncuşi. The Russian Constructivists proclaiming the distillation was in order to create a universal language of art which the masses were meant to understand. It may have also had supported the rapid industrialization planned for the massive country. Brāncuşi's work was much more of a search for the purity of the form and thus paved the way for the abstractions that were to come, such as minimalism.
The second (and most notable) phase in the movement came with artists including Sol LeWitt, Frank Stella, Donald Judd and Robert Smithson. Many other artists made important contributions to this artistic movement; however, these artists seem to exemplify the movement in very different areas.
Also notable are the post-minimalists, including Martin Puryear, Tyrone Mirchell , Melvin Edwards and Joel Shapiro . The keystone of post-minimalism is the often distinct references to objects without direct representation. This has become a predominant trend in modern sculpture.
- Main article: Minimal music
In classical music of the last 35 years, the term minimalism is sometimes applied to music which displays some or all of the following features: repetition (often of short musical phrases, with minimal variations over long periods of time) or stasis (often in the form of drones and long tones); emphasis on consonant harmony; a steady pulse. It is almost inseparable, currently, from electronic music and composition.
It should be noted that the minimalist movement in music bears only an occasional relationship to the movement of the same name in visual art. This connection is probably one reason why many minimalist composers dislike the term. Philip Glass, whose group initially performed at art galleries where his minimalist visual artist friends were showing, reportedly said of minimalism, "That word should be stamped out!" Apart from Philip Glass, Steve Reich is arguably the most famous minimalist composer, with John Coolidge Adams also being notable. Following the classical compositions of Philip Glass, the Chicago House scene in the late 1990s saw a major revolution with the advent of the ghettotech single "Time for the Perculator" by Cajmere , which was decidedly more minimalistic in its outlook.
The term minimalism is also used to describe a design and architecture trend wherein the subject is reduced to its necessary elements of function and form.
Literary minimalism is characterized by an economy with words. Minimalist authors eschew adverbs and prefer allowing context to dictate meaning. Readers are expected to take an active role in the creation of a story, to "choose sides" based on oblique hints and innuendo, rather than reacting to directions from the author. The characters in minimalist stories and novels tend to be unexceptional; they're guys who sell pool supplies or coach second tier athletic teams, not detectives or the fabulously wealthy. Generally, the short stories are "slice of life" stories.
The root of American literary minimalism is the work of Ernest Hemingway, and one of the best examples of the style is his "Hills Like White Elephants." Because Hemingway never describes the tone a character takes when he/she speaks, the reader is forced to interpret the tone based on the response. Also, although the landscape is integral to the story symbolically, this fact is never made explicit the way it might have been in earlier literature (think Wuthering Heights).
Literary minimalism arose in response to the meta-fiction trend of the 1960s and early 1970s (John Barth, Robert Coover, and William H. Gass) and assumes that readers know that they're being manipulated and that they want to participate in the process.
Minimalist authors include the following: Raymond Carver, Chuck Palahniuk, Amy Hempel, Bobbie Ann Mason, Tobias Wolff, Grace Paley, Sandra Cisneros, Mary Robison, and Frederick Barthelme.
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