Questioning the art object 3: Minimalism and Pop Art

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Late Modernism (post WW2) saw an increasing variety of attitudes towards the art object. -Traditional materials were still used, but sometimes with a different approach, (e.g. Sol LeWitt used drawing on the wal l, with no support . ) - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Transcript of Questioning the art object 3: Minimalism and Pop Art

Questioning the art object 3: Minimalism and Pop Art.

Questioning the art object 3: Minimalism and Pop Art.Late Modernism (post WW2) saw an increasing variety of attitudes towards the art object. -Traditional materials were still used, but sometimes with a different approach, (e.g. Sol LeWitt used drawing on the wall, with no support.) Materials new to art were incorporated: e.g. Minimalist artists introduced industrial materials into artmaking;

Screenprinting, a simple mechanical process, became popular in Pop Art pieces (Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha)

Art moved away from the gallery altogether (e.g. earth art) or questioned art institutions in some way (e.g. Daniel Burens work)

A minimalist wall-piece: Sol LeWitt, Cubic modular wall structure, 1966, black painted wood, 110.3 x 110.2 x 23.7 cmWhat can we say about the title of LeWitts piece? It is simply describing itself. It has no narrative; its not relating to everyday life in a direct visual way, as we shall see Pop Art does. It is referring to itself. With its grid structure though, a repeated form of cubes, could we perhaps say that this IS a comment on an industrial age? How do we respond to it (imagining that we are actually physically in front of it?) When we move to one side or the other, the lines change in relation to each other. Shadows (not especially visible here) would be a feature of the work as well. It is stuck to the wall, like a painting, but it has some three-dimensionality like a sculpture. 1Quick review of last session: Sol LeWitt.Regarded as the founder of both Conceptual art and Minimal art. His famous quote from 1967: the idea is a machine that makes artFor LeWitt , the idea was the artwork. What appeared on the wall, on a print, or as a sculpture was the result of the artwork, not the artwork itself.

His wall-works were the result of his specific instructions, carried out by various assistants. With some works, the instructions required the actual hand of the technician to be involved with creating lines themselves, so although the work technically could be reproduced anywhere in the world, in fact it would always look different. This raised questions about the uniqueness of an artwork. Also, it meant that the final look of the work was deliberately out of the artists control. So, how much of it was actually his art?

Chloe Cheng, Considering Sol LeWitt with HSC Vis Art Class 2012, various biro lines on paper, 3cm x 10cm, 2012

LeWitt, Drawing #273: Lines to points on a grid, 1975.Although LeWitt claimed the look of the result was of no consequence, in fact the scale of the works and the various shapes were visually interesting. This was in contrast to some other Conceptual Artists, whose work was very deliberately boring or totally non-visual. 2LeWitts use of drawing to create monumentally-sized works was a new approach, questioning the traditional status of drawing as a more personal project, or a study towards a painting or sculpture. He did away, too, with a traditional support (paper, canvas) when he worked on walls. He used text and language in specific ways.namely, to write instructions about how to create the work. How have we seen text and language used in art previously?

LeWitt, Wall drawing 38, coloured paper stuffed into pre-existing holes on a wall, 1970. Instructions: Tissue paper cut into 1-inch squares and inserted into holes in the gray pegboard walls. All holes in the walls are filled randomly.

LeWitt still called this a wall drawing but has created the work in a different way. He responded to the wall as it was presented to him. Again he uses seriality, system, repetition, and the hands of his technicians are involved in unpredictable ways.

What is his art about? We know its questioning stuffand does that successfully as it gets the audience thinking. Is it about anything else? Its self-referential. Its all about itself. The content of the art is all about itself. It has no other content, and yet for that very reason of simply being about itself, it makes us think in new ways.

3How could we say that LeWitts work impacted on the relationship between audience and artwork?He literally made the audience think outside the square they could no longer point to the work within a frame or on a plinth and know that this was the artwork. In fact, the artwork was invisible in LeWitts case. We saw the end result of his artwork.

An art lover couldnt buy his work, take it home. (He did do some murals that were permanent fixtures in buildings, etc.) But it couldnt be tucked under your arm and brought home. This lack of art as a commodity (a thing that could be bought and sold easily) forces the audience to become more conscious. Its tricky. Confusing.

Because of the marks being made by assistants etc, the audience becomes conscious of the problems or challenges that the artist is throwing at them, the questions he is asking of them what is art anyway? Whos hand needs to create the mark? And importantly, who says so?

Minimalist art was concerned with the nature of materials; measurements; repetitions (seriality) and space. It tended to be plain and simple; no complex forms. Again, the context the artwork was placed in was important not so much in conceptual terms (making us think) but physically. The gallery space the size and nature of it as well as our physical bodies and size - were features in the consideration of this art. Issues of scale are an important factor in how we relate to an artwork.

Donald Judd, Untitled, stainless steel and plexiglass, 1968, 83.8 172.7 121.9 cmStainless steel; plexiglass; iron; bricks; concrete; plywood were all used as art materials. The art of Minimalism typically avoided personalised expression and gesture and was geometric (straight, industrially or mechanically produced lines, cubes, boxes etc) which emphasised industrial production over the hand of the artist.

Would we call this an aesthetic art? Is it concerned with beauty?


Donald Judd, Untitled, wall mounted work, 21 x 642 x 21cm, 1965Characteristically, minimalist work sought to avoid nuance (subtle differences) and maintain simplicity. They were trying to avoid symbolism or codes. The work was meant not to be related to in an emotional way, like the gestural works of Abstract Expressionists.

Dan Flavin, Pink out of a corner (for Jasper Johns), 1963, flourescent light, 243.8 x 15.2 x 13.6 cmThe positioning of this work is interesting. What can we say about it?

Gustav Klimt, The Kiss, 1907-8, oil and gold leaf on canvas, 180 x 180cmSighremember the olden days? How could we compare Minimalist art with say, a work from the Symbolist movement? in terms of both materials used, and the intention of the artist? We could perhaps say that SymbolistArt lends itself to the SubjectiveFrame, and the Minimalist more tothe structural (and cultural) frame?The stainless steel and the gold leaf are both shiny!! And we are affected by this, we are drawn to the surface of both pieces and made to consider the materials in each. However Klimts work uses traditional materials, and LeWitt, Flavin and Judd used industrial materials not usually associated with fine art. The gold is used by Klimt as a symbol of love and desire between the couple. His work tells a story we can share in. The minimalist artists claim to tell no stories within their art. The art is just about materials, space etc. It was an art that very much reflected the materials of its age. Symbolist art, in contrast, was concerned with a timelessness, or else a harking back to ancient legends. 7World events in the 1960s and 70s saw in increase in mass-produced goods and industrialisation. As well, this period saw protests to do with human rights issues across the Western world. Such issues as race; feminism; colonialism; the peace movement (especially the Vietnam war); the green movement all became more vocal at this time. A questioning of the status quo was happening throughout society, but at the same time other groups were celebrating the turbo-charged modernity of the Western world.

Ed Ruscha, Standard Station, Amarillo Texas 1963, oil on canvas, 162 x 303cmPop art reflected back the mad mad world of consumerism the disposable; the new; the flashy; the cheap. It celebrated it, and in doing so raised questions about it. However we are much more able, from this distance, to look critically at this art. It was not created with a postmodern critique in mind. A lot of Pop art was a celebration, or even just a reflection of the world around them.

What kind of world is Ruscha representing here, with this image? Note the heroic perspective and the extreme foreshortening. He created many versions of this petrol station, with screen printing techniques. Note here he uses a traditional medium though.8Pop art was art of the everyday, and looked outwards to the advertising signs, posters, comics on the street and in magazines and movies. It deliberately lowered the bar on what could be considered art (remind you of anyone?) It was also an art that tended to be associated with the young and groovy, so could be attractive but also could be confronting, as youth was associated with the anti-war protests, rock music and the rising drug culture. Andy Warhol (US, 1928-1987) Campbells Soup cans, oil on 32 canvases, each canvas 50 x 40cm. Originally exhibited with each separate canvas resting on a shelf. Warhol moved to silk screen printing in the early sixties. This acted to further depersonalise the works.

Warhol started his working life as a commercial artist, creating images for magazines etc. He was very well regarded in this field as a young