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The Art Story Homepage Movements, Styles, and Tendencies Post-Minimalism

Post-Minimalism

Post-Minimalism Collage

Started: 1966

"The steel and the space, or the object and the void, become one and the same."

Richard Serra Signature

Summary of Post-Minimalism

The term "Post-Minimalism" was first used in reference to a range of art practices that emerged in the wake of Minimalism in the late 1960s. In a similar manner to the term "Post-Impressionism" it serves to gather together a range of styles that are related, yet which often have very different, even opposing interests. Post-Minimalism refers to tendencies such as Body art, Performance, Process art, Site-Specific art, and aspects of Conceptual art. Some artists associated with this tendency sought to extend the Minimalists' interest in creating art objects that do not have the representational function of traditional sculpture, objects that are abstract, anonymous in appearance, and have a strong material presence. But other Post-Minimalists pursued very different goals: many reacted against the earlier movement's impersonality, trying to invest sculpture once again with emotionally expressive qualities. While the formal and theoretical interests of this period are no longer so influential, many of the themes and strategies of Post-Minimal artists remain very current, making it one of the most enduring styles of the last half-century.

Key Ideas

Some Post-Minimal artists were interested in extending Minimalism's interest in anonymity and in emptying artwork of the artist's personal expression. Instead of using industrial materials and impersonal methods of fabrication to achieve this, they used other strategies. They presented material in ways that seemed unprocessed or uncomposed, or the material drooped and sagged, clearly governed more by the character of the material rather than the artist's intentions. To distinguish it from Minimalism's perceived concern with form and composition, this is referred to as "anti-form."
Some Post-Minimalists shared the Minimalists' interest in abstraction and materiality, yet rejected their preoccupation with industrial materials. They also rejected the movement's mood and rhetoric, often perceived as cold, over-intellectual and even authoritarian, responding with sculptures of more expressive qualities, often evoking the body and aspects of sexuality.
Many Post-Minimal artists admired Minimalism's break with conventional formats of painting and sculpture, wanting to investigate new limits or traditions in the making of art. Some believed that the chosen material should govern the character of the art object. Others believed in a more expanded sense of technique that encompassed the artist's processes, the materials and even the way gravity operates on materials.
Some artists also took the cue to get out of the gallery and install art in new environments. This led to a new interest in the relationship between the artwork and its site, called Site-Specificity. Others took artwork into the natural environment in the Land art movement.
Post-Minimalism Image

Beginnings:

New developments in art came fast in the 1960s. No sooner had Minimalism emerged onto the public stage than Post-Minimalism surfaced. In a 1966 New York exhibition entitled Eccentric Abstraction, critic Lucy Lippard curated work by a group of artists, including Eva Hesse, Louise Bourgeois and Bruce Nauman. Containing work with highly personal and sensuous qualities, it drew on traditions of Surrealism, Dada and Expressionism. The pieces often combined unusual, soft and pliable materials. Some borrowed the modular, repetitive compositions typical of Minimalism, but many also exploited more relaxed and open structures.

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