Minimal Art Is Sometimes Said to Have Initiated a Turn Towards Installation Practices. Discuss What Defines Installation Art, and How Minimalism Contributed to Its Emergence.

Topics: Modernism, Abstract expressionism, Sculpture Pages: 7 (2146 words) Published: May 5, 2008
In the 1950s and late 1960s, Minimal Art shattered traditional notions of art making by redefining the form, material, and production of the object and its relationship to physical and temporal space and the spectator. Because of this, Minimalism was able to draw attention to the space in which the work is shown; this emphasized the direct engagement with the space and environment as a work in itself. Since then, Minimal Art has helped initiate a turn towards installation practices, a practice that has taken fifty years to emerge. Minimal Art is where artists made no attempt to represent an outside reality. The artists wanted the spectator to respond to what was only in front of them. The reality would be the form of the work and the medium or material that is used to create the work. Minimal Art surfaced as a backlash against “action painting” , espoused by Abstract Expressionism that focused on emotional intensity and personal readings as Minimalism purely relied on single or repeated geometric form, serial patterns, strong concentration of industrial materials, and along with external factors of the spectator and environment. Minimal Art also challenged and questioned the theory against 20th century American art critic Clement Greenberg, who also supported Abstract Expressionism that “modest art is an internally focused investigation of the essential features of each separate medium.” He understood that modern art was medium specific and believed that because the history of modernism involved artists exploring the precise nature of their medium, art media should not be mixed. Both of these disruptions cited turns for the practice of Installation Art by allowing the breakdown of medium specificity and all it meant, as well as the idea that external factors of the spectator and environment play a role in how we experience artworks.

Installation Art can be defined as the placement of objects in a certain context in order to convey a certain feeling, idea or experience. Through their placement, a relationship is created between the objects and the spectator. This relationship transforms the objects from their everyday uses into being a part of a specially created experience. Installation art was primarily an attempt to give a new meaning to the old materials – they literally broke the frames of paintings and liberated them from the age-old traditions of conventional making and viewing of art. They vandalized canvases, they brought found objects to galleries, they transported down sculptures from the pedestals so that the museum quality and thereby the authoritarian quality of the art was violated. A number of these notions were employed previously into the sculptures by American Minimalist, Carl André, although his intention was different. First and foremost, he opposed expressionist painting and concepts by questioning their notions through his work and consciously made sure his works did not reflect his personal touches or manual skills. He saw the importance bestowed on the hand of the artist in the creation of an artwork as a distraction from the art object itself. Therefore, instead he created objects that were as impersonal and neutral as possible, with the aim that the spectator should have a more pure reaction to the art object itself, looking at the physicality and not the psychology. He achieved this by strictly using industrial materials. He adopts painterly format, and uses commercially available materials or objects that are emotionally cool, blank and prosaic, almost always in identical units or bar forms, such as timber, Styrofoam, cement blocks, bales of hay, etc., with only one type of material per work. An example of this would be his exhibition at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in 1966. The artist arranged eight rectangular sculptures on the gallery floor, each made of 120 identical fire bricks. Equivalent VII (1966) usually referred to as “The Bricks” one of eight works,...
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