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Styles & Periods

Minimalism developed out of a reaction to modernism and its emphasis on the painting. Instead, by reducing their field of vocabulary to only the most essential components, minimal artists, quite often sculptors, reintroduced the importance of shape. The illusion inherent in Old Masters’ works and the emotional expression of paintings in the 1950s was discarded by the minimalists, in favor of the supremacy and timelessness of objects in their environments. The minimalist movement stems from several moments in the history of art. The abstract geometry of Kazimir Malevich, the machine-like forms of Constantine Brancusi, and the Spatialism of Lucio Fontana all contributed to artists working within minimalist ideals. Some leaders include sculptors Carl Andre, Tony Smith, Donald Judd, and painters Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly. In traditional painting, the presence of a human hand and a personal vision are often evident. In Minimalism, modules of color, shape or materials are used to build the artwork, resulting in a finished product that is free from overt narrative.

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