The early 1960s brought about a significant shift in western art, largely in reaction to the critical and popular success of the highly personal and expressive painterly gestures of Abstract Expressionism.
Minimalist artists, for example, produced pared-down three-dimensional objects that have no resemblance to any real objects. Heavily influenced by the Dutch De Stijl group, the Russian Constructivists and the German Bauhaus the new Minimalist vocabulary of simplified, geometric forms made from humble industrial materials challenged traditional notions of craftsmanship, the illusion of three dimensions, or spatial depth, and the idea that a work of art must be one of a kind.
With Minimalism, the former gestural qualities and illusionism of art were no longer important. The emphasis was supposed to be on shape and materials, and these were to be as pure, plain and simple as possible creating objects of interest and beauty by reducing the work of the artist to the smallest number of colors, values, shapes, lines, and textures. This way the need for social comment, self-expression, narrative, or any other allusion to history, politics, or religion was rejected. Minimalism also found application in many creative disciplines art, architecture, design, dance, film making, theater, music, fashion, photography and literature.
“Minimalism derives its name from the minimum of operating means. Minimalist painting is purely realistic—the subject being the painting itself”, David Burlyuk (1929).
The minimalist principle also forms the core of a contemporary lifestyle movement and has made its way into sports, gastronomy, and many other areas. But nowadays one truly interesting use of this artistic philosophy is the research in Artificial Creativity, a thrilling field located at the intersection of artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, philosophy, and the arts. Thhe goal of Artificial Creativity is to model, simulate or replicate creativity using a computer to better understand our cognitive processes and ultimately build autonomous machines capable of innovating.
The systematic procedures present in the actions of Minimalism (which we could assume are biological computing operation) should not be so different from an algorithm functioning in an intelligent agent designed with silicon substrate. Therefore the ability for machines to create simple, colorful, balanced and beautiful artworks should be soon avalaible with a little help from ourselves… Let’s keep working foward extending the influence of Minimalism in the 21st century!
*(Picture: artwork by Dan Flavin).