Dates: 1958-1975

Origin: United States

Key Artists: Donald Judd, Dan Flavin

As a style and a philosophically based movement, Minimal art developed to its fullest extent in the 1960s, although its repercussions continue to affect contemporary art into the 1990s. Like Pop art, which appeared in galleries in New York and Los Angeles only a year before Minimalism, it is characterized by hard-edged planes, anonymous facture, and an industrial sensibility developed in reaction to the painterly, emotion-driven forms of Abstract Expressionism. Unlike the Abstract Expressionists, many of the artists associated with Minimal art produced three-dimensional works. Although most had been trained as painters, the desire to suppress the illusionism inherent in painting and to explore the possibilities of real space led many of them to wallbound reliefs and finally to sculpture. The distinctions between painting and sculpture had begun to blur in the 1950s, and by 1965 Donald Judd was able to assert that much contemporary three-dimensional work might resemble sculpture but that it was nearer to painting, from which it retained its predominantly rectangular format and the use of color. While sculptors explored the effects of polychromy, painters associated with Minimalism tended to work monochromatically, in neutral, industrial colors. Resolutely abstract, Minimal art avoided figure-ground relationships in painting and any anthropomorphic reference that might associate it with sculptural statuary.

Colpitt, Frances. “Minimalism.” Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. Ed. Michael Kelly. Oxford Art Online. 12 Mar. 2010 <;

Donald Judd


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