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  • Herman de Vries - V71-122, 1971
  • Untitled, Constructed Norman, Oklahoma, 1969
  • untitled 1972,
  • Untitled, 1965
  • V71-122, 1971
  • V71-40, 1971
  • V67-31, 1967
  • Dynamische Struktur, 1958
  • Plus Minus Nul, 1968
  • Untitled 1972-74

The Essence of Things Explored by 10 (Post-)Minimalist Artists at ArtCircle

October 1, 2017
A philosophy graduate interested in theory, politics and art. Alias of Jelena Martinović.

As Robert Morris famously stated, “Simplicity of shape does not necessarily equate with a simplicity of experience”. Characterized by extreme simplicity of form and a deliberate lack of expressive content, Minimalism questioned conventional boundaries between various media. Stripped of expressive or historical themes, the ideas were expressed in a direct and impersonal manner and the works referred to nothing other than itself. A group exhibition featuring work by ten artists associated with minimalism and post-minimalism in the 1960s and 1970s will soon be organized by ArtCircle. Titled The Essence of Things, the exhibition will present works by Carl Andre, Stephen Antonakos, Bernd Lohaus, Günther Uecker, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Herman de Vries, Richard Tuttle, Jef Verheyen, and François Morellet, among others.

Günther Uecker - Untitled (Dots), 1959, Jef Verheyen - Anvers, 1962
Left: Günther Uecker – Untitled (Dots), 1959; Ink on paper / Right: Jef Verheyen – Anvers, 1962; Oil on canvas; 146 x 114 cm

What You See Is What You See

In the late 1950s, artists began to question the emphasis on interior subjectivity in the then-dominant movements of Abstract Expressionism and Art Informel, as well as its expressive excess. Deriving from the reductive aspects of Modernism, Minimalism reduced art making to its essentials – the use of industrial materials, simple geometric forms, serial or other systems, and a focus on the physical object in space. Rejecting the ideas of subjectivity and spirituality, these artists created works with as few internal relations as possible. In this way, the attention was placed on the materiality of the works themselves, rather than any overt symbolic or emotional content. As Frank Stella expressed it, “What you see is what you see”.

Richard Tuttle - V67-31, 1967, Robert Ryman - Untitled No. 42/100, 1969
Left: Richard Tuttle – V67-31, 1967; Card on cardboard; 50 x 69 cm / Right: Robert Ryman – Untitled No. 42/100 (edition only partially executed), 1971; White color on white paper; 60 x 60 cm

Extending The Narrative of Minimal Art

This exhibition The Essence of Things aims to extend the narrative of minimal art to a wider circle of European and American artists who purposefully and radically eschewed conventional aesthetic appeal. The approach of these artists was varied – while some of them focused on geometric forms and systematic formal arrangements, others explored the poetic properties of materials like wood, iron or paper, However, they all addressed similar issues – the prevailing ideas about sculpture and painting and the connection and the dividing line between the two – proposing rigorous testing of the essence of art. As the curator Daniel Marzona explains, the show investigates “the essence of materials and forms showing that the formal clarity and simplicity of a work does not reduce the complexity of its perception”.

Giulio Paolini - Untitled, 1972-74 (detail), Günther Uecker - Plus Minus Nul, 1968
Left: Giulio Paolini – Untitled, 1972-74; Typewritten text, 3 elements / Right: Günther Uecker – Plus-Minus-Nul (Objekt und Zeichnung), 1968; Nails on tinplate on wood; 15 x 15 cm each plate, nails 7 cm, overall 62 x 62 cm

The Essence of Things by ArtCircle

ArtCircle is an innovative art platform which organizes museum-quality pop-up exhibitions worldwide with the aim of promoting Modern and Contemporary Art. In keeping with ArtCircle’s concept, The Essence of Things is a pop-up show that will be staged on the first floor of 48 Albemarle Street, a four-story white stucco building in the heart of Mayfair, London. It is the second of three presentations to be mounted in London this year; others will follow in cities around the world. The exhibition The Essence of Things will be on view from September 30th until October 8th, 2017. The private view will be held on Friday, September 29th, from 6 to 11 p.m.

Featured images: Herman de Vries – V71-122, 1971. Ink on Cardboard, 43 x 62 cm; V71-40, 1971. Ink on Cardboard, 50 x 65 cm; V67-31, 1967. Card on Cardboard, 50 x 69 cm; Heinz Mack – Dynamische Struktur, 1958. Acrylic on wood, 17 x 22 cm; Günther Uecker – Plus-Minus-Nul (Objekt und Zeichnung), 1968. Nails on tinplate on wood, 15 x 15 cm; Giulio Paolini – Untitled, 1972/74. Typewritten text; Robert Morris – Untitled (Constructed Norman, Oklahoma), 1969. Ink on tracing paper, 55.88 x 76.2 cm; Pier Paolo Calzolari – Untitled, 1972. Collage, 99.5 x 69.5 cm; Jef Verheyen – Untitled, 1965. Watercolor on paper, 50 x 65 cm. All images courtesy of ArtCircle.