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Past Exhibitions

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Minimal Art and its Legacy

Mar 16 – Nov 3 2013

Seattle Art Museum

Third Floor Galleries

As a reaction to the dominance of abstract painting in the 1940s and ‘50s, many artists in the 1960s turned in new directions. A growing consideration for an object’s relationship to its surrounding space and an interest in supplanting the subjective, expressive gesture of the painter with a rational pre-determined method marked much of the new work. Modular building blocks were embraced as a solution, which earned the fledgling movement terms such as “primary structures” and “ABC” art. Since much of the work was structural, rather than expressive, and mostly devoid of bright color, Minimal art became the umbrella term for these phenomena.

In addition, it was a springboard for other artistic developments. The relationship between object and surrounding space was soon extended to temporary or permanent installations in outdoor venues, often in remote areas. Representatives of what has become known as Land Art developed an interest in a dialogue between indoor and outdoor spaces using minimally processed, elementary materials like rock, sand, or mud for installations.

Most importantly, Minimal art was a stepping stone for the development of Conceptual art. Artists began to consider the idea for a work, or the blueprint for producing an installation, as the most important aspect of artistic creativity. Together with the exhibition The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States, this installation from SAM’s collection will provide visitors with the opportunity to experience this important Minimalist moment and its legacy in American art.

– Catharina Manchanda, Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Untitled, 1973, Richard Serra (American, born 1939), Lithograph, 9 5/8 x 9 1/8 in., Gift of Robert Rauschenberg, 76.87.25. © 2013 Richard Serra / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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