The Ultimate Guide to Minimalism Art
Not so long ago, Mies van der Rohe said his legendary words: “less is more“. Mies was among the pioneers of modernism in architecture and by saying these words he actually defined the contemporary way of life. Now the new generations are happily embracing the beauty of simple forms and reduced aesthetics. Such systematized taste is necessary for the flexibility that our modern world requires. Add a little style to the simplicity and you get right to the point of the Minimalism art.
Due to our busy lifestyle which circulates in a very fast-moving world, we need to adapt ourselves to a more simple way of life. For example, we want to keep our house clean regularly and naturally have to make some time for that on a daily basis. If we can’t or simply don’t want to devote our time and energy to the constant cleaning we can turn to a minimalist arranged home interior. For this reason, along with many others, Minimalism became highly popular and it will probably never grow out of fashion. As Auguste Rodin once said: “The more simple we are, the more complete we become“.
To decorate our home interiors arranged in a simplistic fashion, we need some Minimalism art. Here at Timiko Studio, we are offering the variety of pure, simple, and astonishing minimalistic art prints, posters, and paintings. If you are looking for wall decorations for your home, search no more!
And while you are here, we want to share with you some of our own inspiration and introduce you to the beginnings of Minimal art. Additionally, we want to show you how minimalism became not a trend but the way of life and how simple art forms can embellish your living space. Enjoy!
Here is where we find our inspiration: Beginnings of Minimalism Art
Minimalism as an art movement officially developed throughout the 1960s and 1970s in New York. However, artists that created in a minimalist manner never went under this term but were known under the different names, such as ABC art, literalist art, or the new cool art. Pretty cool huh?
The pioneers of Minimalism art, in fact, shared the animosity toward the Abstract Expressionism, which was at the time official American art. They wanted to get rid of the symbolism, metaphors, and subjectivity produced by Abstract Expressionists. Rather than creating expressive artworks, minimal artists looked for simple and reduced forms which ended up being mostly geometrical.
It is very interesting that the Minimal art in the 1960s started for almost the same reason as to why today’s generations are turning to a minimal way of lifestyle. Both were and are searching for an alternative and more simple environment. Seeking for a substitute to an over-consuming society, younger generations found their solution in Minimalism. Instead of buying unpractical and unnecessary things, they turned towards a simpler fashion and minimal aesthetics.
But, back to the beginnings. We have to acknowledge that even before the 1960s, simple abstract art forms existed in experimental avant-garde movements from the beginnings of the 20th century. We will mention just a few to give you an example: Malevich’s Suprematism and De Stijl.
Russian avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich painted his famous Black Square in 1913, stating that art will serve neither the state nor religion. His theory and practice separated the artwork from its environment so that it can exist as an independent object. By Malevich, the black square was the basic suprematist form which cannot be found in nature.
We also mentioned De Stijl, a Dutch avant-garde movement with Piet Mondrian as one of its most recognizable figures. With Mondrian, minimalists shared the idea that the artwork must be conceived in mind before it is translated onto the canvas.
Minimalism art from the 1960s shared with Malevich and Mondrian dedications to clarity, strict concept, simplicity, and literacy. Minimalist artists wanted to turn to a more systematic and calculated manner, to create not the sense of fusion but the sense of balance. Their art was logical and formalistic at the same time. However, in Minimalism art we also have different artists with slightly different ideas. That is why some art pieces were not so concise and reduced in forms, while some others nourished puritanical rigidity.
Quadratic and cubic forms dominated in the 1960s. Such forms were absolutely purified from all the metaphors and symbolical meanings. They were usually equal, with repetitional forms, and painted on a neutral substrate. These artists sought to create an artwork where the “whole“ would be more important than the small details. In minimal artworks, the dominant rational component was important for the simplicity and purity of the whole composition. This is why Minimalism art produces the atmosphere of integrity, sophistication, and perfection at the same time.
Minimal artists excluded unnecessary elements sustained in previous artistry, such as movement, expressiveness, and gesture. The minimalist artwork does not allude to anything outside of its literal presence and exactness in the physical world. The material is the material, and the color does not refer to anything else.
Frank Stella: Genius Behind Minimalism Art
“But, after all, the aim of art is to create space - space that is not compromised by decoration or illustration, space within which the subjects of painting can live.“ These were the words of Frank Stella, minimalism virtuoso.
The first major minimalism breakthrough happened when Frank Stella exhibited his Black Paintings in 1959. These paintings tested the boundaries of the art world because Stella drastically removed every rhetorical movement and gesture. The core of every exhibited Black Painting contained forms of the rhomboids, squares, crosses, etc. To highlight the minimalism, Stella painted black geometrical forms and lines, under which could be noticed the neutral white base.
The lines on Stella’s minimalism canvases do not extend indefinitely but are limited to the edges of the canvas. The idea of these purified art pieces was its fullness, symmetry, and balance. His art pieces presented below are the embodiment of these elements and are shaped in depersonalized position with the neutral lines.
Minimalism artworks strongly impact the space in which they are exhibited. Whether they are hung on the museum or gallery walls or they are a part of the home interior, these artworks can create an active atmosphere of balance and harmony. When it is a part of the home decor, Minimalism art produces a harmonized sense for that space and its elements, such as light, presence, and even absence.
Down below you can see the artwork from our studio inspired by Frank Stella and how it fulfills the minimalist home interior. The minimalist work behaves as an actor on the stage - it attracts the attention of the observer, overrides it with its objectivity, points to the space around it, and creates the sense of infinity.
Minimalism Art: Influences of Eastern culture
When it comes to Minimalism Art, influences can actually be traced back to the early Eastern cultures of Japan and China. These influences left quite an impact on our artistry as well.
Like with contemporary minimalism, art prints and woodblocks from Eastern cultures contained rather conceptual representation than picturesque. The technique and subjects were kept to a minimum and stood for simplicity and essence of the “whole“ picture.
For example, The Waving Surface of the Autumn Flood by Chinese painter Ma Yuan is the perfect example of these convictions. It was believed that the souls of deceased were the mist in the air, which was translated onto this art piece. Ma Yuan reduced everything to simple and obscure forms of the cloudy atmosphere which was the essence of this representation. The vague, misty, and sublime atmosphere was something we tried to caught with our prints as well!
The next example comes from the 19th century Japan. Sparrows Flying by Watanabe Seitei is yet another among many wonderful Japanese “minimalist“ artworks that stood for simplicity and beauty of the smooth aesthetics. Birds are painted in earthy and neutral tones on the colorless background.
Birds motifs, along with others taken from nature, were a symbolical representation of Zen philosophy that encouraged people to try and achieve harmony with nature. These motifs painted in a minimal manner referred to an open space and freedom.
The poster of two hummingbirds from our studio was inspired by this kind of artistry, painted in contemporary black and white fashion and adjusted to your modernistic designed home interiors!
Zen Philosophy and Minimalism Lifestyle
Unique simplicity and minimalist approach in the abovementioned Chinese and Japanese artistry was strongly connected to the Buddhism and its Zen teachings. The significance of the “less is more“ lies within Zen aesthetics.
One of the most fundamental institutions of Zen Buddhism is monasticism. Traditional Buddhist monk lives a very modest and humble lifestyle. He is well aware that everything in this world is changeable and impermanent. Buddhists believe that devotion and affection to the worldly wealth and prosperity won’t last forever and that material things lead to eventual suffering.
Let’s apply this to a concrete example. Ask yourself a question, what is your favorite possession that you cherish and always keep safe? What would happen if you would lose it? You would feel sad, upset, and angry. This is why Buddhists don't believe in the materialistic affection but focus on essential if rather obscure values, such as happiness.
If we forgot about the consumerism and materialism, our minds would be present at this moment here and now. This is why Buddhists practice meditation. It is not important what you own or what you perhaps want to own but can’t afford. You are not living in the past or in the future, you are living now. This is the core of Zen Buddhism and I’m sure you can connect its dots to the minimal lifestyle.
Some Other Benefits of Minimal Lifestyle
As we mentioned, cleaning your living space can take you quite some time that you would rather spend differently. For example, you could be more productive, working on your goals, or just have some extra time on your hand.
That is why the minimalist interior is a perfect solution. Not only that you would do your cleaning in the easiest and fastest way possible, but you would have more free and open space. Such home would accomplish the meditative atmosphere.
Additionally, the spatial emptiness would reduce everything to its most essential quality. The less you own, the more you will value what you have!
Unique simplicity and minimalistic furnishings will allow you to get rid of the decorations that hold no value to you. Instead, you will keep only relevant decor that will stand out but also perfectly accompany your living space.
Finally, minimal lifestyle is perfect for people who love to travel. Adapting yourself to a minimalistic way of life, you will learn that you can travel light and still have a lot of fun. While traveling, we became more self-aware of our own personality. All the experience we gather from our adventures helps us get to know ourselves better and develop higher self-awareness. Does this sound familiar? Yes, you are right! This is the core of the Zen Buddhism teachings!
Simple is beautiful
Getting rid of the material possessions and reducing your belongings to a minimum will show you the path of self-awareness and easiness. Minimal lifestyle will take you away from the constant hustle and bustle of a working day. Thus, you will pay more and more attention to the long and lasting values, such as your inner peace and happiness, as you live and breathe this moment here and now.
Similar to a minimal lifestyle, Minimalism art is all about the simplicity and essentiality. Those artworks are not tainted with unnecessary decorations and motifs. Each brush stroke, curve, or line is there with purpose and meaning.
All greatest minds of minimalism artistry, that we mentioned here, were aware that beauty lies within the basic and fundamental forms. Malevich once said: “ By Suprematism I mean the supremacy of pure feeling in creative art. To the Suprematist the visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling.“
We can also compare minimal artistry to a Japanese calligraphy. Both resemble the reduction of elements, display stylized composition, and show amazing yet simplified artistic skills.
Simple is beautiful!