- What were the basic ideas behind Minimal Art and Conceptua...
What were the basic ideas behind Minimal Art and Conceptual Art in the sixties?
Conceptual and Minimal Art were overlapping and connected
twentieth century artistic movements which developed strongly in
the 1960s, and which were characterised by a reaction against more
traditional forms of representational art. The aims of both could
perhaps be summarised by 'non-perceptual and non-aesthetic' since
both conceptual and minimal art aimed to undermine the notion of
the supremacy of the physicality of the art object as a given.
In this essay I will attempt to trace the background and
artistic conditions which led to the particular development of
these two movements in the sixties, as well as analysing the
philosophy behind each movement as it was articulated in this
After the sixties, the definition of what continued to be known
as both Conceptual and Minimalist art shifted. PostMinimalism, in
the work of artists such as Eva Hesse and more recently Anish
Kapoor, drew on the ethics and intentions of Minimalism with very
different agendas and results in their manipulation and
diversification of surface, medium, form and texture. Conceptual
art has continued to widen and diversify as a category away from
the definitive form developed in the sixties. In particular, the
move towards an even extreme commodification of the art object,
such as in the 'conceptual' work of 'Young British Artist' Damien
Hirst, almost always preoccupied by the art market and the value of
the art object (such as his recent For The Love of God created in
2007). Hirst also experimented with the ideas of classical
Minimalism (in, for instance, his 'dot' paintings) but with a
consistent discourse of authorship and value.
Minimal and Conceptual Art arose in the sixties in a 'pure' form
responding to the artistic, cultural, social or political context
of the day. In their origins they both reacted against and stemmed
from previous artistic movements and in many senses operated as a
pivot point - a moment of revolution in art. The reverberations of
this revolution continue today to put into question what
constitutes 'art', concepts such as artistic progress and style,
and the nature and role of the artistic establishment.