Minimal! The Reduction in Painting


The minimalist artists of the 1960s in the USA developed their works as a critical reaction to the popularity of painterly gestures and abstract expressionism by using new and radical ways of producing art. Artists such as Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, Dan Flavin, and Donald Judd wanted to avoid artistic gestures and levels of association; their works were meant to be read literally . They began to use industrially manufactured and processed materials for their works, producing conceptual, serial, and industrial objects. In doing so, they experimented with a radical reduction of form and color, shifting the meaning of the artwork from pictorial space to real space. The practice of the artists represented in the exhibition “Minimal! Reduction in Painting” should, however, be understood in the context of a post-minimalist discourse that questions the concept of the “literal.” The exhibition mainly combines paintings and works on paper that suggest reduced artistic beginnings, but purposely go beyond the literal sense of minimalism and definitely allow for levels of association again. Many of the works shown in the exhibition are the results of long processes and a direct confrontation of the artists with the materials in the studio. Instead of industrial production, the creation of the artwork by the hand of the artist takes place again, the pictorial space becomes a carrier of meaning once more. 

Nevertheless, in their minimalist-looking works, the artists of the exhibition deal with different questions of reduction, which concern both the moment of the narrative, but also a reduced vocabulary of color and form. As a result, their approaches to reduction do justice to the growing need of many people, especially in these months, to concentrate on the essentials again, and at the same time raise interesting questions about the limits of painting.


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