Minimalism (1970s-Today)

Minimalism is based on extreme simplicity of form and a deliberate lack of expressive content. Its central principle a work of art should not refer to anything other than itself.


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Minimalism Architecture- Characteristics

“Less is more” refers to building designs that are reduced to the absolute bare minimum of elements. Minimalist architectural design typically uses basic geometric shapes, harmonious colours, natural textures, open-plan spatial arrangements, neat and straight components, clean finishes, flat or nearly flat roofs, large windows and satisfying negative spaces.

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Minimalist architects

Luis Ramiro Barragán Morfín (1902–1988) was a Mexican architect and engineer. His work has influenced contemporary architects through visual and conceptual aspects. He studied as an engineer in his home town. One of the project is the Hotel Camino Real in Polanco, Mexico City. This project reflects the importance of the native culture and its intersection with an elegant modern design.

Luis Barragán House and Studio, also known as Casa Luis Barragán, is the former residence of architect Luis Barragán in Mexico City. It is now a museum exhibiting Barragán’s work and is also used by visiting architects. It retains the original furniture and Barragán’s personal objects.

Luis_Barragán_House_and_Studio_Street_viewLocated in the west of Mexico City, the residence was built in 1948 after the Second World War. It reflects Barragán’s design style during this period and remained his residence until his death in 1988.


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Antoine Predock (born 1936 ) is an American architect . The Nelson Fine Arts Center at Arizona State University was his first nationally won design competition. Predock’s work includes the Turtle Creek House, built in 1993 for bird enthusiasts along a prehistoric trail in Texas, the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, and a new ballpark for the San Diego Padres.

John Pawson (born 1949) is a British architectural designer whose work is known for its minimalist aesthetic. Pawson’s work focuses on ways of approaching fundamental problems of space, proportion, light and materials.

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Tadao Ando (born in 1941) is a Japanese architect. Tadao Ando’s body of work is known for the creative use of natural light and for structures that follow natural forms of the landscap. Ando’s buildings are often characterized by complex three-dimensional circulation paths. These paths weave in between interior and exterior spaces formed both inside large-scale geometric shapes and in the spaces between them.

Row House in Sumiyoshi
Row House in Sumiyoshi

His Row House in Sumiyoshi is a small two-story, cast-in-place concrete house completed in 1976, is an early work which began to show elements of his characteristic style. It consists of three equal rectangular volumes: two enclosed volumes of interior spaces separated by an open courtyard. The house is famous for the contrast between appearance and spatial organization which allow people to experience the richness of the space within the geometry.

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Minimalist Sculpture

  • Minimal objects were simple, geometric bodies such as cubes, used in and for themselves, and not as symbols or as representations.
  • Minimalist sculptures encouraged the viewer to be conscious of the space. The artwork was carefully arranged to emphasize and reveal the architecture, often being presented on walls, in corners, or directly onto the floor.
  • Minimalist artist preferred industrial materials, prefabricated and/or mass-produced: fibreglass, Plexiglass, plastic, sheet metal, plywood, and aluminum. Steel, glass, concrete, wood and stone are also returning materials. The materials were either left raw (or hardly processed by the artist), or were solidly painted with bright industrial colours.

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Carl Andre (born in 1935)  His most significant contribution was to distance sculpture from processes of carving, modeling, or constructing, and to make works that simply involved sorting and placing.

Donald Judd (1928-1994) was American Art Critic and Sculptor. Judd’s works stand directly on the floor and as a result, force the viewer to confront them according to their own, material existence. Judd combined the use of highly finished, industrialized materials, such as iron, steel, plastic, and Plexiglas to give his works an impersonal, factory aesthetic.

Untitled, by Donald Judd (1971)
Untitled, by Donald Judd (1971)

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Late 20th Century Types of Minimal Art


Neo-minimalism is a rather vaguely defined art style/movement of the late 20th, early 21st centuries, in painting, sculpture, architecture, design, and music. It is sometimes referred to as “neo-geo”, “Neo-Conceptualism”, “Neo-Futurism”, “New Abstraction”, “Poptometry”, “Post-Abstractionism”, “Simulationism”, and “Smart Art”. Contemporary artists who are supposedly associated with the term, include David Burdeny, Catharine Burgess, Marjan Eggermont, Paul Kuhn, Eve Leader, Tanya Rusnak, Laurel Smith, Christopher Willard, and Time Zuck.

Richard Serra's Tilted Spheres in Terminal 1 Pier F at Toronto's YYZ airport
Richard Serra’s Tilted Spheres in Terminal 1 Pier F at Toronto’s YYZ airport

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Post-Minimalism describes attempts to go beyond the idiom of minimalism,in architecture or the visual arts. In simple terms, 1960s minimalism is a rather intellectual style of art characterized by extreme simplicity of form and a deliberate lack of expressive content. Minimalist artists were only interested in presenting a pure “idea”. In Post-Minimalism (1971 onwards), the focus shifts from the purity of the idea, to HOW it is conveyed.

Keith Sonnier's Chandelier Project (2000)
Keith Sonnier’s Chandelier Project (2000)

Postminimalism is associated with the following contemporary artists: Tom Friedman, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Matthew Kandegas, Anish Kapoor, Wolfgang Laib, Joseph Nechvatal, Damian Ortega, Martin Puryear, Charles Ray, Joel Shapiro, Keith Sonnier, Cecil Touchon, Richard Tuttle, Richard Wentworth, Rachel Whiteread and Hannah Wilke, among others.

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