The Language of Less (Then and Now)
Looking back in the history of art, ideas in the definition of art have changed over the years. Art becomes categorized through the changes in art over time. This allows us to better understand how art shapes and has shaped the world of art. By visiting the MCA, The Language of Less (Then and Now), I viewed art from the 60s and 70s. Viewing the minimalist works, ideas of society and the everyday emerged. By viewing this exhibition, I compared and contrasted the art from then and now to present day.
The Language of the Less exhibition held work of minimalist sculptures. Upon entering the exhibition, I was able to identify it to minimalism. Being familiar with some works, such as Donald Judd and Richard Serra, it allowed me to be engaged quickly. The works carried the ideas of manufacturing and mass-production. Because of this machine made like objects, it carried little or no ideas of imagery and concepts. As the idea of “artists that worked with their hands” is absent while viewing these works, other thoughts arise. Since the “essentials” are stripped in this kind of art, I began to focus in on other details the works held.
For Robert Smithson’s, Mirror Stratum (1966), I began to look and study the detail the spacing’s of each overlaid mirror (Repetition is formed by overlaying mirrors). Smithson begins to create a 3-dimensional form with the mirrors and its reflections. I focused in and began to wonder on the construction of this work that Smithson created. Minimalism created an experience not only in person, but also in my mind. By stripping the embellishments in this piece, I able to comprehend the ideas of the basic markers. (Ex: color, hue, proportions, shape, texture, etc.)
Donald Judd’s Untitled (1970), is one that I have previously viewed photographs of. (Similar to Judd’s Stacks). The visuals of this artwork shows the industrial reproduction techniques. This minimalist piece shows metal structures repeating and stacked equally spaced apart. This shows a reproduction of the same object, which immediately gave me the idea, and understanding of mass-production. With the aesthetics from this artwork, it leads to social aesthetics. It displays a commercial enterprise to the eyes of the viewer and sent a message that is understood from the importance of the growing reproduction market.
The entire exhibition was so simple and minimal, yet it was complex. Not only did the art allow the viewer to focus on its details, I began to concentrate on its entirety. The minimalism of the works allowed me to grab attention on the floor plane, height and widths between each work on/off the wall, and even the compositions of hanging works. As these works address the attention to every bit of detail, it mapped out to a wide variety of interests and approaches. This play in space allowed me to understand this built environment of dimension. The Language of Art exhibition allowed me to appreciate the aesthetics of the works.
C Type (1968), Frank Stella.
Acrylic on canvas
There were few paintings present in this exhibition, but this one by Frank Stella fit right in. The layout and proportions of the angular stripes are produced to have similar characteristics of minimalism. Stella maps the importance of dimension on this canvas.
Shadow Painting 4 (1968), Gerhard Richter.
Oil on canvas
I was surprised to see Richter’s painting in this exhibition because of his previous paintings I am familiar with. Richter is better known for his photorealism and abstraction in his art, but it was intriguing to learn that he made these types of paintings in the 60s-70s. Richter paints and the viewer considers the illusionistic space. The oil paint is very successful on the canvas + monochromatic colors (seen through the shadows also).
Untitled (1966), Robert Smithson.
Enamel on aluminum.
This is a very structural piece which Smithson focuses on dimension. When viewing this piece, I thought about mass-production and machine-made objects. This work displays the absence of the human, which defines minimalism perfectly.
Portal (1964), Robert Morris.
Latex on aluminum
Morris creates a portal, which is very symbolic. This large-scale sculpture is in the most basic geometric form. Morris uses beams in different angles and an arch to represent a portal. This is also an architectural form which is sized into a human scale. A doorway is seen and we begin to measure ourselves against it. It begins the question the interactive aspect of it, and if we are allowed to share this trait of intimacy.
Stairway (1973), Jackie Ferrara.
Cotton batting with glue on cardboard.
Ferrara’s sculpture focuses on a set of stairs. The materials used gives an illusion of ancient architecture. There is repetition and repeating units, similar to Smithson’s, Mirror Stratum. Space distribution is of importance in this piece, and also placement of each wedge. The stacking of each unit combine and form a staircase. This work reminded me of how pyramids and other similar structures are built. This also becomes a work to look back at historical structures and architectural creations made.
Prop (1968), Richard Serra.
This work by Serra immediately stood out to me. It reminds me a lot of Eva Hesse’s Hang Up. It serves as both a painting and sculpture. Right away, it rejects the handmade aspect to the work because of its industrial materials. Made out of only lead, it seems as if the object is holding up and weighing down the part agaist the wall. The materials used is very clear, this clarity is a great element to Serra’s work.
Earth Monument to Chicago (1965-77), Alan Sonfist.
Natural earth drillings consisting of: sand, gravel, clay mixture, stiff gray clay, fine sand with gray clay, gravel with gray clay, dense gray clay silt, hard pan, green shale, sandstone, and dolomite with pyrite (form of limestone).
First, I noticed the orderly placement of each earth drilling. Sonfist used the ideas of minimal art and displayed it by the order and objectivity.The samples of each earth mixtures shows a timelessness of earth and the natural forms it creates.
And the Teller (2011), Gedi Sibony.
Canvas drop cloth, sheet rock, wood beams, plywood, hollow core door, hinges, and screws.
The Silly Tuck It In (2011) Gedi Sibony
Foam Core, Tyvek, plastic, and wooden shelf
The Perfect Imitation (2011), Gedi Sibony
Wooden painted armoire with cloth-wrapped board inserts.
These three works by Gedi Sibony are sculptural. They bring together fragments of the built enviorment. The materials used create spatial compositions.
At first glance they may seem very minimal, but Sibony concentrates on every bit of detail. Sibony also attunes to the installations, taking consideration of dimensions, lighting, and the circulation the spaces provide. The works urges the viewer to look more carefully and study each detail, providing the pleasure of our everyday experiences in the world that surrounds us. There is attention to textures, shapes,relationships within objets, and the lighting effects.
I Gave My Name To It (2010), Oscar Tuazon.
Steal plate and fluorescent lamps
Tuazon presents this work made out a heavy sheet of steel. It presses florescent lamps against the floor, illuminating it. The heavy steel suggests and gives an idea to the viewer that the delicate lights may be crushed. As the light escapes and illuminates the floor around it, it also suggests strength and hope.
Sleeping in the Order of the Slowing of Time (2011), Jason Dodge.
These are pillows that has only been slept on by Dr. Dorit Vath (A botanist), Dr. Britta Rabe (archeologist), and Dr. Gretta Alteby (geophysicist). Dodge personalizes each pillow. Doge links the study of three types of time and life cycles. By using pillows, I wonder if he is curious on how the three people sleep (sleep cycles) and what they may dream. By stacking the pillows, he combines their different lives into this one work. Also this combines Dodge’s ideas.
A Lighting Rod Points North (2011), Jason Dodge.
Viewing this piece, I started to notice the detail of the floor plane, dimensions, and also direction. Dodge places this rod in specific measurements, and you can tell by the title. The orientation of the room and placement of object is of importance to Dodge. This allows the viewer to be aware of their surroundings. This rod and where it points directionally provides guidance and information. It becomes a device of directionality and also weather (lighting).
Walk Around There. Look Through Here (2011), Leonor Antunes.
Cork, rubber, brass, leather, and electric lights.
Antunes created this sculptural piece that covers the floor of the space. The triangle shapes made of cork becomes structural and architectural. The cork becomes a systematic sequence, thus becoming a pattern. As the triangles become a grid system, it demonstrates the result of different matterials. Antunes also suspends this leather net-like objects from the ceiling. It shows the underlying system while looking chaotic. All of the materials use are vastly different, yet combines similar traits of different translations.
Untitled (For you, Leo, in long respect and affection), (1978), Dan Flavin.
Pink, green, yellow, and blue fluorescent lights.
Flavin activates and lures viewers in the room’s corner, which is interesting because viewers always seem to walk around the corners or just neglect this area. Similarly, artwork seems to neglect the corner because it does not have a flat plane to hang up artwork. The shadows initiated by the colorful lights become mesmerizing in this corner. The combination of colors created a dominance in specific colors because of the manipulation Flavin created.
Untitled (1970), Donald Judd
Similar to Judd’s Stacks, this work has repetition. Judd being a great example of a minimalist, he uses rectangular forms with industrially sourced materials. By choosing these bold colors, the proportions reflect an idealization which becomes satisfying to the viewers eye. Judd seems to want to inform viewers of the capacity of the solids, voids, and composition.