Minimalism and Earthworks

Emerging in reaction to Abstract Expressionism, the Minimalists looked to remove the artist's hand from artmaking, and earthworks did away with traditional media altogether.

c. 1960–present

Beginner's guide

Although many works of art can be described as “minimal,” the name Minimalism refers specifically to a kind of reductive abstract art that emerged during the early 1960s.

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Robert Ryman in “Paradox”
Robert Ryman in “Paradox”

Using white paint on square forms, Ryman highlights the subtle nuances of a surface.

Alice Aycock, <em>Low Building with Dirt Roof (For Mary)</em>
Alice Aycock, Low Building with Dirt Roof (For Mary)

A work of non-functional architecture, Aycock’s structure evokes personal memories and associations to the ancient past.

Nicolás García Uriburu, <em>Coloration of the Grand Canal, Venice</em>
Nicolás García Uriburu, Coloration of the Grand Canal, Venice

García Uriburu’s Coloration of the Grand Canal, Venice was a playful and innovative approach to painting that involved dying the Venice canals green.

Carl Andre, <em>Lever</em>
Carl Andre, Lever

Minimalism privileges a creative thought process, on the part of both viewer and artist, over the making of objects

The Case for Land Art
The Case for Land Art

What kind of an art can thrive with such a formidable co-star as Earth?

The Case for Minimalism
The Case for Minimalism

There’s no Marie Kondo tidying up here, so what is Minimalism, really?

Walter De Maria, <em>The Lightning Field</em>
Walter De Maria, The Lightning Field

400 stainless steel poles in the high desert of New Mexico are the object, but the subject is the sublime.

Robert Smithson, <em>Spiral Jetty</em>
Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty

Drought and rain govern when this work of art in Utah’s Great Salt Lake can be seen.

Robert Morris, Bodyspacemotionthings
Robert Morris, Bodyspacemotionthings

Serious Art or a jungle gym? Morris shows us that art can be experienced bodily, and Minimalism can be fun.

Donald Judd, <em>Untitled</em>
Donald Judd, Untitled

Judd’s boxes were made by factory workers, not by the artist—but he provided instructions.

Robert Morris, <em>(Untitled) L-Beams</em>
Robert Morris, (Untitled) L-Beams

Are these objects the same size? Morris challenges our perception.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, <em>The Gates</em>
Christo and Jeanne-Claude, The Gates

26 years in the making, this intervention in Central Park was controversial—even though it only lasted two weeks.

Selected Contributors