After Modernism: Minimalism

 

Minimalism was an art movement which emerged in small groups in the 1960’s, aiming to strip art down to its bare bones, pushing away from the complexities seen in Abstract Expressionism which flourished in the cold war period of the 1950’s. This was the main philosophy of the Minimalist artist, showing how the concepts and ideas of the artist blurred the value of the art as piece of work.

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Robert Morris – L-Beams

Minimalists such as Donald Judd (considered one of the founders of the minimalist movement) scrutinises the concept of painting as a whole, arguing that the rectangular shape of the canvas limits the work’s possibilities, and that there is only a limited amount of pictorial space to compromise the painting. He also had a dislike for the work of oil on canvas due to its illusionistic concept and masking of real objects (i.e, the canvas), also stating that it is more of a collaboration due to the objects being manufactured by other people.

As a painter, I strongly disagree with these statements, although I do respect his argument and the points being raised. Minimalistic pieces such as Judd’s do in themselves have materials which must be manufactured by other people, and that some of his own artwork contains artificial colouring, which in itself can be seen as painting and ‘masking’ the work. I think it can be said that even structures have their own limits, with works that become impossible to create and maintain due to the forces of gravity capping a limit to what we can create. All sculptures and paintings must compromise this, yet this doesn’t take away from the fact it is a piece of art.

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Donald Judd – Untitled (1968-69)

After Modernism: Conceptualism

Is art primarily concerned with objects or ideas?

 

Conceptualism is a way of thinking in art that due to me being more primarily focused on painting, and what paint can do on a canvas with respect to composition I haven’t had much grasp of in recet years. I personally enjoyed the lecture even though it was out of my comfort zone, yet I couldn’t really relate much of it to my own work.

To open the lecture, Jon discussed about arguably the beginning ‘sculpture’ of Modern Art and what we know as modern art today; Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (1917), the pinnacle of conceptualism.

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Marcel Duchamp – Fountain

He put forward 4 major cases against Duchamp’s Fountain:

1. Duchamp didn’t make this object, therefore it is not art.

2. It wasn’t intended to be a work of art.

3. Anyone can do this, therefore it is not art.

4. If this is art, everything is art, therefore nothing is art.

Here are some of the points arguing against those claims;

  • When arguing against the first point, it is important to remember that sculptural artists of the 19th Century, such as Rodin never actually cast any of their marble masterpieces into bronze, and that there are 319 bronze casts of Rodin’s Kiss alone, with one being situated in both the Tate and Cardiff National Museum, and different varying aspects in each one.
  • Secondly, Museums and galleries were not intended to be “for the people”, but almost as large cabinets of curiosities, allowing wealthy Kings and Noblemen to exhibit their lavish art and make a statement to the world of their wealth and power. In fact, many paintings were cut down and stripped of their composition in order to fit onto the wal in is what known as a Tapestry hang, utilising the upmost space on the wall; emphasising that feeling of power.

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Early painting of the National Gallery

  • Enso paintings, which are common in Zen Buddhism, consist of one solid circular brushstroke and are often accompanied by poetry or words. Their symbolism will vary, depending on the words with it, but often are symbolic of grace, enlightenment or even the sun and the universe. One must never change the circle when the first brushstroke is made, due to the fact the innacuracies are what make this piece of art what it is, and in Buddhism is reflectant of the personality of the person who created it 

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  • Art is what is stripped from its context and then put into its surrounding (in this case, a gallery or a museum), and then it is actually given the concept of a piece of art. It is the idea and putting together of the objects which give it the concept.

 

 

Aside

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after a quick daytrip I have gathered a few quick watercolours looking at the forms of people in the city, using that stark contrast on the page, along with some preliminary sketches of buildings in the area

Interior architecture studies

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Over the past few days I have looked at approaching architecture with a variety of different aspects. To begin with, I was drawn to the clambering, overlapping buildings that are seen from the 4th floor of the art studio, and the repitition of chimneys and angular roofs fading in the distance on the other side of the studio (1st and 3rd photos). I wanted to illustrate these angular and linear forms through bold, charcoal lines, and start to reach an almost semi abstract view of the skyline.

In other sketches, I have looked more simplistically and focused on the use of perspective, such as the sketch of the arcade, and I personally am drawn to the narrowness of the walkways in there, which I have attempted to portray in the sketch. However, After looking more in detail of the architecture that I see regularly, such as the intricate architecture of the Cardiff National Museum, which has been carefully thought out with regards to history and manipulation, and the interior of Cardiff central station, which I intend to further delve into.

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I think in today’s life drawing session I used my materials with a lot more confidence and vigour in my mark making, and felt that I had used my time far more wisely. I hope this will have further effect on my own projects