Clear, pure path

  When we turn our attention to the “minimalism” trend of thought that has emerged in visual art since the 1960s, we will find that artists such as Tony Smith and Robert Morris have put the paradoxical expression “minimal is more” The proverbs developed to the extreme. Although the concept of “minimalism” is not a complete picture of the characteristics of these artists, it at least shows their general characteristics and common goal of using extremely simple, often geometric forms, and vivid colors. , full “industrial color”. In minimalist sculptures, romantic and elegant figures can no longer be seen. Minimalist sculptors have gone further than Henry Moore, Alberto Giacometti and other masters who have transformed figures. They are completely industrial, producing simple and clear geometric shapes whose large scale fully reflects the characteristics of the new industrial age.
  Why did such a mighty extreme form of postmodernism emerge in the 1960s: neutrality, mechanical egolessness and romance, a complete abandonment of objects and an exaggerated reflection of the times? As an artistic trend of thought, when we analyze the origin and development of “Minimalism”, we must think about it from two perspectives: its characteristics of the times and the inheritance of art history.
  First of all, it should be noted that at this time, human society has entered the “post-industrial” era, a day of industrial technology. As the catalogue of the 1962 exhibition “The New Realists” wrote: “In Europe, as in America, artists are finding new directions in nature. The so-called contemporary nature is the torrent of machinery, industry and advertising… …The reality of everyday life has now become the factory and the city. The extroversion, born under the twin marks of standardization and high efficiency, is the law of this new world…” and the radical break with life and art Like the Fenced Pop artists, some young sculptors also felt the great changes brought by post-industrial civilization to human beings, and used thorough industrial materials and methods to express them.
  Secondly, “Minimalism”, as an expression way for human beings to explore art in modern and post-modern situations, is inevitably influenced by the evolution of art history and other contemporary artistic, philosophical and cultural trends of thought. “Pure form” has always been the truth pursued by modernists, and in the early 20th century, innovations in science, culture, and the whole field of art abounded. Art no longer imitates any concrete material image, but takes its own independent and abstract form as a medium of expression and exploration. As early as July 15, 1920, Hans Leckhardt of the Berlin avant-garde wrote in a newsletter: “A pure form is a form that is detached from all ornamentation, from straight lines, curves and arbitrary shapes. It can be freely formed in the basic elements of the era.” That is to say, abstract art is endowed as a symbol of the times, and becomes the real expression of the spirit of that era. Minimalism, as the real end of modernism, can be traced back to modern abstract art such as Constructivism and Suprematism in Europe, and seeks its own roots in the breakthrough of abstract art.
  At the same time, the trend of “minimalism” is related to the anti-European traditional artistic concept of pop art in the United States in the 1960s. It can be said that there are two completely different and obviously related creations in the works of minimal art. The method—one is the extremely simplified form of abstract painting: the pursuit of artistic purification, and only the necessary elements that cannot be reduced; the second is the new narrative method expressed by Pop artists: the use of ordinary everyday life in elegant art. , simple, unmodified things, seeking a method of direct expression.
  Indeed, as American art historian L. Smith summed up in his book “Visual Art Since 1945”, the development of post-war Western art tends to “shift from extreme egoism to relative objectivity; It is the transformation of freehand production into mass production; from hostility to industrial technology to being interested in it and exploring its various possibilities.” The “Minimalism” works highlight the above characteristics of post-modern art with their silent and huge existence. .
  Among the sculpture revolution of “Minimalism”, David Smith’s works are the most representative. In Smith’s view, painting and sculpture were never separate except for the dimension of space. The work “Hudson River Landscape” is like a line drawing made of metal. Although the sculpture is composed of two-dimensional planes, when looking at the natural scenery through the hollow space, the work brings out infinite depth and color. sports. When we face his representative works such as “zip” and “cube”, we will feel the quality of sculpture pointed out by Susan Lange in “Emotion and Form” – an illusory dynamic that dominates the surrounding space volume, the force of illusory space. Its composition depends on more transcendental repetition and continuity, the welding of cubes does not leave room for mind and emotion, but there is an almost solemn simplicity, and its inherent silent power makes people feel heartbroken, like a pyramid. The simplicity of the shape will not weaken its appeal, but strengthen its majesty. The cube in it maintains itself like an organic part of a living body, and strives to maintain its own structure. Various visual elements extend and grow infinitely in all directions, giving life to the visual space centered on it. In this sense, sculpture intensifies the vitality of the sensory space, making us feel and realize the existence of the life and power of the space.
  Another representative “minimalist” sculptor is Carl Andre. In the choice of materials, he avoids using bright and pleasant materials, but uses simple bricks, sleepers, iron plates in primary colors, etc. , and only retains its lusterless and pleasing color. At first, he also sculpted the material, but later gave up even this little bit of modification. All he did was to put the material into a certain shape. “I realize that what I carve is the sculpture itself, and now I am not sculpting materials, but sculpting space with materials.” His works get rid of the vertical factor of sculpture, usually just bricks, logs, metals, etc. The objects are laid flat on the surface of the exhibition hall and lie silently at the feet of the audience. Its structure gives a sense of perspective that conflicts with the real perspective of the room. The relationship between people and the sculpture has changed. When you step on it, you can Perceiving its different textures and thermal conductivity, in order to change people’s perceptions and make art ordinary and humble, he said: “The works I like are like this, it is in the same room with you, but it doesn’t come in your way, You can ignore them if you want to.” He wants his work to exist like a natural object that can disappear naturally under natural conditions. This kind of inaction attitude comes from his admiration for the thought in “Tao Te Ching” that “what is useful is beneficial, and what is useless is useful”.
  Above , we briefly introduced the creative ideas of the representative artists in the “Minimalism” sculpture and the characteristics of their main works. We can summarize the creations of these sculptors and the formal characteristics of the artworks as follows:
  1. Radical reduction, the use of simple geometric shapes;
  2. 2. Boldly use new industrial materials
  ; Working on a monumental scale;
  these works use the most basic form of substance, calm but not arrogant, silent but not loud, highlighting the aesthetic pursuit of the “minimalist” artist to the greatest extent possible.
  First of all, the “Minimalism” sculpture places great emphasis on the continuity of the sculpture itself and its surrounding space. A work of art is the center of a three-dimensional space, an illusory dynamic volume that dominates the surrounding space, from which the environment derives its full proportions and relationships. At the same time, “Minimalism” also emphasizes the effective combination of works and the environment. In the post-industrial modernity, many abstract buildings are the perfect background for abstract art, and simple geometric shapes, as familiar and easy-to-remember images, have established a commemorative volume for people lost in the modern jungle of reinforced concrete. abstract mental maps, rather than masking the man-made environment with “naturalistic” finishes.
  Secondly, the requirements of “Minimalism” for the audience’s interpretation and dialogue have also been greatly enhanced. A very simple example: we can well describe the size, shape, and color design of the works, but if the viewer is not in them around them, passing through them, approaching them, or being in them, it is impossible to comprehend and interpret these works of art. As an abstract plastic art, “Minimalism” itself is non-interpretive, which provides multiple possibilities for diverse dialogues.
  If we analyze the tendency of “Minimalism” to simplify the object to the extreme in order to highlight the essence of things from the perspective of philosophy and culture, we can see that the entire modernist art has completely abandoned the skillful use of the predecessors. Art forms, the reasons for this retrogression, as Arnheim pointed out in Art and Visual Perception: “It is to be found in their basic psychological factors … which are related to our whole cultural situation, the artist become outsiders to society, people who create cultural remnants, all they perceive is the form and structure of the events that take place. Observations made in this solitary mental state may also contribute to acuity The formation of insight, because retreat from reality and disconnection from real life does not necessarily mean retreat or isolation, an experienced observer, after retreating a certain distance, he observes things often It is the more essential and obvious character of things, and the contingent details are omitted.” This direct grasp of pure essence is what these excellent modernist paintings and sculptures attempt to achieve through abstraction. purpose to be achieved. “The purpose of modernist artists using precise geometric figures is to more directly express the essence of those hidden natural structures. Realistic art is to reproduce such natural structures in material objects and in the material world. The manifestations of various events, and its essence is indirectly revealed. However, these abstract artistic images can directly reveal the essence of things. No matter how abstract they are, as long as it retains the kind of The artistic appeal of different formulas is an effective form of expression.”
  Indeed, when facing the works of “Minimalism”, we feel a kind of original purity and mystery, just like the “Stonehenge” of the ancestors, showing the Human beings try to erect monuments on the land of existence with their great spiritual power, and make space have its own status by means of geometric rhythm. Such sculptors, with their rational indifference, self-restraint, religious piety, noble-like elegance, and extremely simplified spiritual power, pursue an indescribable pure artistic experience, and strive to interpret the works of art in depth. He was rescued from the trap, resisting the impetuous, exaggerated, and schizophrenic social thought with a rational and even indifferent attitude, and resisting alienation civilization with his attempt to return to the simple and simple inaction. What they give to the audience is always indifference and clarity, strong industrial colors and the meditative temperament of still things.
  Today, Minimalism, an artistic practice trend that emerged in the 1960s, has rapidly penetrated and influenced various fields including architecture, garden landscape, and interior design with its simple and clear style. Pure, smooth, clear lines, geometric shapes, creating a tranquil atmosphere like the meditative temperament in oriental culture… Minimalism art consistently enhances the cumbersome aesthetics, abandons the trivial decoration, and is impetuous in the increasingly crowded city corners. Urbanites leave a pure spiritual space. Returning to the simplicity and simplicity of clarity and purity, this should be the reason why minimalist art still glows with unique charm today!