Minimal Myth

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June 2 -  September 16 -  2012

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen – Museumpark 18-20 – Rotterdam

“Drop, hang, lean, in short, act. If for the static noun of ‘form’ is substituted the dynamic verb of ‘act’ in the priority of making, a dialectical formulation has been made.”

Robert Morris

The exhibition Minimal Myth presents a parallel study of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s holdings of Minimal Art of the 1960s and 1970s, and works by contemporary artists that relate to the vocabulary of their predecessors. The exhibition explores how, fifty years after the birth of Minimalism, its apparent objectivity is open to new interpretations.Major works drawn from the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen are presented in the museum’s main Bodon Galleries alongside works by contemporary artists. The Bodon Galleries opened in 1972 with the express purpose of providing space for large installations by artists working at that time. The exhibition features sculptures, paintings, installations, videos, photography, prints, and drawings.

Minimal Myth takes its lead from the reductive approach which arose in the early 1950s in various artistic disciplines and which was epitomised in the visual arts by theoretically charged movements such as Minimalism in the United States, the NUL Group in the Netherlands, and the Zero Group in Germany. Artists would remove non-essential forms and concentrate on surface, scale, and colour. By using this basic vocabulary, they became interested in reformulating the concerns towards geometric abstraction in the avant-garde, revivifying the experiences of Suprematism, Bauhaus, and De Stijl. This renewed exploration of shapes, lines, and masses in their purest form found its mode of expression in structure-based geometric arrangements in which object, architecture, and nature were seen as a theatrical whole embracing the viewer. After this radical reduction of logic, can we envisage further interpretation of geometric abstraction?

Immediately following a period saturated by the representational, we are witnessing the re-emergence of a concern for form, now more intimate and necessarily tactile. Artists are expressing a renewed urgency which finds its point of departure in geometry, iteration, and seriality. The focus has switched from the goal to the means, from simplification to intensification. There is an awareness of abstraction rooted in a context where the process and the titles of the works suggest larger narratives. Machines, which now mingle with the everyday, are manipulated and used to leave an unpredictable gestural mark. Contemporary artists are distancing themselves from the perfect shape by adding instead of reducing, by stressing unity and wholeness, and by overcoming the work of art’s classical categorisations.

More than being a purely mediumistic expression, the works on view challenge the borders of abstraction as defined in the twentieth century. This new ‘concrete abstraction’ goes beyond its presence and the purely sensory experience. It is a non-objective art characterised by the creolisation of seemingly opposite artistic positions of the past century. Now that the aesthetic of the minimal does not challenge our vision but decorates our lives, how does geometric abstraction responds to its omnipresence in society?

Artists

The participating artists are Ben Akkerman, Carl Andre, Bernd & Hilla Becher, Larry Bell, Mel Bochner, Nicola Carrino, Marieta Chirulescu, Chris Cornish, Ad Dekkers, Ger van Elk, Dan Flavin, Lydia Gifford, Raphael Hefti, Martijn Hendriks, Nathan Hylden, Donald Judd, Nicholas Knight, Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, Brice Marden, François Morellet, Robert Morris, Marc Nagtzaam, Kenneth Noland, Nick Oberthaler, Tomas Rajlich, Kilian Rüthemann, Jan Schoonhoven, Monika Sosnowska, Peter Struycken, Oscar Tuazon, Giuseppe Uncini, and Ned Vena.

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