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Minimalism at the MCA Chicago

At the MCA Chicago, there is a very good exhibition of Minimalist art, entitled "The Language of Less (Then and Now)," which runs until at least the end of March 2012. 

Donald Judd, "untitled", 1970
I have two thoughts about the exhibition.

One: that the way the artists sought to pare down the material of expression produced work that now has a classical appearance. Classical, in the sense that it appeals to notions of order, symmetry, balance, absence of superfluity both in the materials chosen and the thoughts expressed. Classical in the sense of emotional coolness rather than heat. Looking at a painting by Brice Marden, we aren’t going to be seduced in the same way as by a Velazquez, or even a Monet. But as an object, the picture absorbs us nevertheless.

Brice Marden, "Grove Group V", 1973-76
Richard Serra, "Prop", 1968

Two: that the works chosen as examples of contemporary Minimalism seem fussy and busy by comparison with Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, et al. I liked the one shown below, by a contemporary Portuguese artist, but it seems to have more in common with the recent trends in installation art, which occupy more space than Minimalist artists from the nineteen-sixties and seventies would ever have taken.

Leonor Antunes, "Walk around there, look through here," 2011


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