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Qu'est-ce que le Minimalisme en peinture ?

What is Minimalism in painting?

When we talk about minimalism, we often think of the modern and refined interiors of decoration magazines. But did you know that Minimalism is also an artistic movement, heir to Modernism, which was born in the 1960s in the United States and which has taken over painting as well as sculpture and music? “Less is more”, the expression popularized by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe who was the director of the Bauhaus, a famous German school of architecture and applied arts, is often cited as a maxim by followers of this modern aestheticism. Let's discover the main points of this movement and its influence until today.

No fuss!

This movement in contemporary abstract art appeared in reaction to the lyricism of Expressionism and in opposition to the figurative and ironic tendency of Pop Art. The Russian painter Malevich laid the foundations for “pure” abstract painting in which geometric shapes play a big role, like his famous “Black square on white background”. Ad Reinhardt, American painter, engraver and art theorist, is also often cited as a leading figure among minimalist painters with his series of monochromes. The work of American painter Frank Stella, considered the great precursor of Minimalism, focuses on the perception of objects and the way they occupy space, without seeking to charge it emotionally or symbolically. “What you see is what you see”, he will say as if to cut short any form of interpretation. Has the Artist fallen from his pedestal to get closer to the craftsman who designs a “painting object”, without trying to leave his mark? There's something to be a little disconcerted about, right? The public's reactions were very varied, from fascination to incomprehension to skepticism.

A reduction to the essentials

The term "Minimal Art" was first used in 1965 by the English philosopher Richard Wollheim in Arts Magazine, but many artists reject it for its reductive nature. While simplicity is essential, it is not a goal as such. Getting rid of the superfluous forces you to focus on the essentials. Among the great representatives of American Minimalism, we can cite the visual artists Robert Morris and Donald Judd as well as the painters and sculptors Carl Andre and Sol LeWitt. What they all have in common is that they favor formal simplicity and seek neutrality. Basic shapes, economy of colors; everything seems to move towards sobriety. It is interesting to note that we find in minimalist music hypnotic repetitive sounds which are reminiscent of the seriality of the geometric lines of certain minimalist Artworks. It is also no coincidence that minimalist sculptures are often made from raw materials such as steel or concrete. Their forms are so rudimentary that it is difficult to understand them for anything other than what they are. Minimalism still has a great influence today on conceptual art but also in graphics, design and decoration. Behind the apparent coldness, a deeper approach? It is a legitimate and topical question with the emergence of minimalism claimed as a way of life to free oneself from consumerism and live in harmony with oneself and one's environment.

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