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a history of minimalist design

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Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

Leonardo da Vinci

what is minimalism?

A style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.

In a broad and general sense, one finds European roots of minimalism in the geometric abstractions of painters associated with the Bauhaus, in the works of Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian and other artists associated with the De Stijl movement, and the Russian Constructivist movement, and in the work of the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi.

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the history

Minimal art is also inspired in part by the paintings of Barnett Newman, Ad Reinhardt, Josef Albers, and the works of artists as diverse as Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Giorgio Morandi, and others. Minimalism was also a reaction against the painterly subjectivity of Abstract Expressionism that had been dominant in the New York School during the 1940s and 1950s.

In contrast to the previous decade's more subjective Abstract Expressionists, minimalists were also influenced by composers John Cage and LaMonte Young, poet William Carlos Williams, and the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. They very explicitly stated that their art was not about self-expression, unlike the previous decade's more subjective philosophy about art making theirs was 'objective'. In general, Minimalism's features included geometric, often cubic forms purged of much metaphor, equality of parts, repetition, neutral surfaces, and industrial materials.

White on White

Kazimir Malevich

1918

Kazimir Severinovich Malevich lived from February 23rd 1878 until May 15th, 1935 and was a Polish-Russian painter and art theoretician. He was a pioneer of geometric abstract art and the originator of the avant-garde Suprematist movement.

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Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red

Piet Mondrian

1937

Pieter Cornelis "Piet" Mondrian was a Dutch painter, and a contributor to the De Stijl art movement and group, which was founded by Theo van Doesburg. He evolved a non-representational form which he termed neoplasticism. This consisted of white ground, upon which he painted a grid of vertical and horizontal black lines and the three primary colors.

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Blue-Green Painting

Ad Reinhardt

1948

Adolph Frederick Reinhardt ("Ad" Reinhardt) born December 24, 1913 was an abstract painter active in New York beginning in the 1930s and continuing through the 1960s. He was a member of the American Abstract Artists and was a part of the movement centered on the Betty Parsons Gallery that became known as abstract expressionism.

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Taxi Cab III

Al Held

1959

Al Held born October 12, 1928 was an American Abstract expressionist painter. He was particularly well known for his large scale Hard-edge paintings. As an artist, multiple stylistic changes occurred throughout his career, however, none of these occurred at the same time as any popular emerging style or acted against a particular art form. In the 1950s his style reflected the abstract expressionist tone and then transitioned to a geometric style in the 60s

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Canto VII

Barnett Newman

1963

Barnett Newman born January 29th, 1905 was an American artist. He is seen as one of the major figures in abstract expressionism and one of the foremost of the color field painters. His paintings are existential in tone and content, explicitly composed with the intention of communicating a sense of locality, presence, and contingency.

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Untitled

Robert Ryman

1964

Robert Ryman (born May 30, 1930) is an American painter identified with the movements of monochrome painting, minimalism, and conceptual art. He is best known for abstract, white-on-white paintings. He lives and works in New York.

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Homage to the Square

Josef Albers

1965

Josef Albers born March 19th, 1888 was a German-born American artist and educator whose work, both in Europe and in the United States, formed the basis of some of the most influential and far-reaching art education programs of the twentieth century.

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Glass Cube

Larry Bell

1966

Larry Bell (born in 1939) is a contemporary American artist and sculptor. From 1957 to 1959 he studied at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. He is a grant recipient from, among others, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and his artworks are found in the collections of many major cultural institutions. Bell’s work has been shown at museums and in public spaces in the United States and abroad over the course of his 40-year career.

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Harran II

Frank Stella

1967

Frank Stella (born May 12, 1936) is an American painter and printmaker, noted for his work in the areas of minimalism and post-painterly abstraction. Stella continues to live and work in New York.

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Cardinations

Jo Baer

1974

Josephine Gail "Jo" Baer (born August 7, 1929) is an American painter, whose works are associated with minimalist art. She began exhibiting her work at the Fischbach Gallery, New York, and other venues for contemporary art in the mid-1960s. In the mid-1970s, she turned away from non-objective painting. Since then, Baer has fused images, symbols, words, and phrases in a non-narrative manner, a mode of expression she once termed "radical figuration."

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Number 88

Bob Law

1974

Bob Law (January 22, 1934 – April 17, 2004) was a founding father of British Minimalism concerning painting and sculpture. A prolific artist throughout his lifetime, Law struggled with ideas surrounding the legitimacy and significance of abstract art.

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Happy Holiday

Agnes Martin

1999

Agnes Bernice Martin born March 22, 1912 was an American abstract painter. Often referred to as a minimalist, Martin considered herself an abstract expressionist. She was awarded a National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1998.

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Angled Ring 1

Robert Mangold

2011

Robert Mangold (born October 12, 1937) is an American minimalist artist. Since the beginning of his career in the mid-‘60s, Robert Mangold has combined the classic elements of composition—shape, line, and color—to create abstract works of architectural scale, drawing by hand thick and thin graphite lines on subtly modulated planes of color.

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Indochinite

Charles Hinman

2013

Charles Hinman is an Abstract Minimalist painter who pioneered the concept of the three-dimensional shaped canvas in the mid-1960s. He explores the ambiguity between the illusion of perspective in painting and the physical space of sculpture, creating characteristic canvases that play with the perception of volume, color and light.

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