Synopses & Reviews
The simple question and#147;What is minimalism?and#8221; has defied simple answers. Artists known as minimalists have distinctively different methods and points of view. This highly readable history of minimalist art shows how artists as diverse as Carl Andre, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, and Anne Truitt came to be designated as minimalists during a series of exhibitions in the 1960s.
and#147;I can think of no book that even undertakes a comparable art historical accountand#151;not merely tracing a movement year by year, but showing how the movementand#8217;s consciousness of itself emerged.and#8221;and#151;Arthur Danto, Times Literary Supplement
and#147;Many skeptics deem the sixties too close for comfort and hence not suitable for an art history in the grand tradition. James Meyer proves them wrong. Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the Sixties establishes a historical precision and seriousness that many have thought lacking in the recent wave of writing about postwar American art.and#8221;and#151;Christine Mehring, Art Journal
and#147;By far the best account to date of Minimalismand#8217;s development and the essential point of departure for all future research on the subject.and#8221;and#151;Pepe Karmel, Art in America
and#8220;Meyerand#8217;s writing is intelligent, informed, and subtle. The book is well produced and generously illustrated with good quality colour and black and white images.and#8221;and#8212;John A. Walker, Art Book
and#8220;This new volume combines a sophisticated reading of the critical discourse surrounding Minimalism with a step-by-step history of the workand#8217;s development and its appearance on the public stage from 1961 through 1968.and#8221;and#8212;Pepe Karmel, Art in America
The simple question "What is minimalism?" has defied simple answers. Artists known as minimalists have distinctively different methods and points of view. This highly readable history of minimalist art shows how artists as diverse as Carl Andre, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, and Anne Truitt came to be designated as minimalists during a series of exhibitions in the 1960s.
What is minimalism? The answer to this simple question has defied simple answers. In this highly readable history of minimalist art James Meyer argues that minimalism was not a coherent movement but a field of overlapping and sometimes opposed practices. He traces in comprehensive detail the emergence of six figures associated with the development--Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, and Anne Truitt--and how the notion of minimalism came to be constructed around their art in the 1960s. Despite distinctive differences in method and points of view, Meyer shows, these artists became equated in a series of important exhibitions and texts that led to their designation as minimalists.
Beginning with the first reviews of minimalist shows, the book tracks the development of an art that critics dubbed Cool Art, ABC Art, and Primary Structures before settling on the deprecating label minimal art." Suggesting that such work was overly reduced in form and facture, this term implied that the new abstraction was barely legible as fine art to some viewers. Meyer describes the heated polemic that unfolded in response to these practices, the differing claims of the artists, and the sometimes intense rivalries that developed within a highly competitive, fashion-minded New York art scene. The book culminates with an analysis of minimalism's canonization in the late sixties, its reception in Europe, and its discrediting by leftist viewers who associated the new art with American capitalist-imperialism of the Vietnam War.
About the Author
James Meyer is associate professor of art history at Emory University.