Minimalist art and my non-art friends

Minimalist art is undoubtedly the least favorite art subject of all of my friends. I learned this the other evening as I was perusing an old issue of Art in America in which there was an advertisement for a show of Judd’s work. I would say that the looks it received were nothing short of contemptuous.

“So why don’t I just take a stack of books and call it fine art?” one friend asked me. As I myself have never been the largest proponent of minimalist art, I thought that rather than exhausting myself in an attempt to justify the ideas and accomplishments of the minimalist art movement, I would simply answer their questions by asking them questions. “Which books? Where? How many and why?” These questions proved to be the right ones.

In the lengthy conversation about the motives of art and the succession of art movements–from Surrealist and Regionalist to Abex to Pop and minimalism–I realized the chasmic difference of interest and knowledge between myself and my friends with regards to the art world. This is not to claim some sort of superiority for myself, rather, I want to point out the unfortunate barrier that I find in most young non art majors. There is a fundamental lack of will, at least in 75 % of the people that I know, to learn and engage in art. I suppose that I cannot blame minimalist art for this, but I can say that the movement’s removal of the artist from the piece and the lack of what Dan Flavin would call “keenly realized decoration” (lecture) certainly damaged their perceived ability to interact with fine art as a whole.

So how come? Is it only my experience that proves so dichotomous? I’d like to know what you think and how your non-art major friends respond to fine art.

2 Responses

  1. I would certainly be on the same page as you to where some people just don’t get it, or just don’t take the time to get it. As a avid art enthusiast, we share the wanting to know more, the why, the how, the where. I find that a lot of the people will look at one piece and say “I don’t get it” and just move on from all art of that time period or anything associated with that movement.

    A friend of mine says that Pop Art is the only art that he likes since the 19th century. I find it peculiar considering also follows with an answer to my question of “I don’t know much about anything else, and I don’t relate to it.” If you don’t know, you can’t relate, but maybe that’s just the art history in me speaking.

    • Thanks for your reply. It’s like anything else, I guess. You have to be patient and give it time, or it won’t work for you. Good thing we have that part figured out!

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