The 1960s saw the emergence of abstract minimalism art as a response to abstract expressionism’s emphasis on emotional expression. It is distinguished by a restrained or minimal use of colour, shape and form, frequently evoking calm and tranquilly. People that love simplicity and minimalism are drawn to this type of art.
It is a beautiful style of art that may look easy to make. But that is not necessarily the case at all. It actually can be quite a challenging task to create abstract minimalist artwork.
Minimalist abstract painting is one of my favourite art styles. It usually takes the most time to create as I build layers upon layers of colours and shapes. Every additional layer takes over from the layer behind it and just barely shows a glimpse of what lies beneath.
This style of art works really well in creating minimalist black and white abstract paintings, minimalist abstract line art and minimalist geometric abstract art. Most of all, I enjoy creating large abstract minimalist wall art.
In this blog post, I will cover the following topics:
- What is abstract minimalist?
- Origins of abstract minimalist art
- Key features of abstract minimalist art
- What is the difference between abstract and minimalism?
- Is minimalism Abstract Expressionism?
- Is minimalism abstract or realistic?
- Techniques in abstract minimalism art
- Famous minimalist art examples
What is abstract minimalist?
Abstract minimalist art style emphasises purity, minimalism and the simplicity of colour, form and all the other art elements used in creating a piece of artwork.
The aim of abstract minimalist art is to create a sense of serenity and tranquilly. To do so, abstract minimalist artists use a limited palette of colours and a few simple shapes. They also employ repetition and white space to add a sense of harmony and balance.
I use a lot of white colour in my abstract paintings. I always feel white colour represents space and also a new beginning. Whenever I feel stuck in a painting, I would paint that area with a white colour and start again. It always works for me.
Origins of abstract minimalist art
The roots of abstract minimalist art may go back to the early 20th century when some early abstract artists like Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian started experimenting with abstract painting.
They focused on the purity and simplicity of colour and shape rather than any figurative or representational elements. They believed that art should be created with its bare essentials and that less is more.
However, the minimalist art movement emerged in the United States in the 1960s as a reaction to the emotional expressiveness of Abstract Expressionism.
I can talk a lot about Abstract Expressionism. It is a beautiful type of art and it is the main art style I use to create all my abstract paintings. I have written several blog posts about it if you are interested to learn more about this amazing art. Have a look at this blog: 3 Amazing Types of Abstract Art.
Key features of abstract minimalist art
As mentioned earlier, simplicity is one of the main characteristics of abstract minimalism art. These pieces of art frequently use a small limited number of colours and forms. The peace and tranquillity brought about by this minimalism style enable the viewer to concentrate on the beauty of simplicity colour and shape.
The use of negative space is another crucial aspect of abstract minimalism art. The space around and between the various objects in an artwork is known as negative space.
Negative space is a technique used by abstract minimalist artists to create a sense of harmony and balance in their work, enabling the viewer to concentrate on the simple colours and shapes of the artwork.
This is easier said than done. It takes quite a lot of knowledge, experience and a great deal of creative imagination to produce powerful and meaningful abstract minimalist art.
What is the difference between abstract and minimalism?
The definition of abstract art is a style of art that does not attempt to represent real objects. It may use real objects but they are either exaggerated, simplified or both.
As an art movement, abstract art first began in Europe in the late 19th century. Early abstract artists felt the need to break free from traditional classical art. They felt the need to express themselves. So the emphasis shifted towards expressing and evoking emotions and feelings rather than realistic depictions.
I have written a comprehensive article about What is Abstract Art, which explains in greater detail the definition and meanings of abstract art.
Many people may be confused between abstract art and non-representational art, and I have written several articles highlighting the difference between the two styles of art.
Abstract minimalism art focuses on similar principles of abstract art but with an emphasis on simplicity and minimalism as the main focal point of the artwork.
However, the minimalism art movement is different from the Abstract Expressionism movement. I know this may sound confusing and I will explain it more in the following two topics.
Is minimalism Abstract Expressionism?
Abstract Expressionism emerged in the United States, New York City specifically, in the 1940s and 1950s and emphasises its emotional expressiveness and spontaneous brushwork.
Many people accepted and many others rejected this style of art.
Minimalism Art movement is not necessarily Abstract Expressionism. As an art movement, minimalism emerged in the 1960s as a reaction to the complexity and the deeper meanings of the emotional expressiveness of Abstract Expressionism.
Minimalist artists sought simplicity and minimalism over complex emotional expressiveness.
There is a delicate difference between the two, which can be easily overlooked by so many.
Is minimalism abstract or realistic?
This is another question some people often ask me. My answer to this question is simple. Minimalism art can be abstract and can be realistic art.
I know it sounds even more confusing. The clear answer is to do with the artist’s ‘intention’. This simple one word can answer so many different questions about the various types and styles of all art.
To me, art is all about two words that can provide clear answers to so many questions about art. The first word is ‘expression’. Personally, I interpret all art as a form of expression in one way or the other.
An expression of thoughts, emotions, feelings, beliefs, the mind and the soul. This expression is to communicate the intention of the artist.
‘Intention’ is the second word. For example, I use a non-representational abstract expressionism style to express and communicate my thoughts, feelings, etc. Others may use realistic types of art to express their thoughts. And so on.
It is the intention to use a particular type of art to express your thoughts and emotions.
I also use minimalism abstract art as part of my non-representational art. Art movements and styles throughout history are, in a way, interlinked and that’s what could create arguments and differences of opinion in the art world.
Techniques used in abstract minimalism art
There are several techniques used by artists to create abstract minimalism art and here are some of these techniques:
- Limited colour palette: Colour, in my opinion, is probably the main element used in creating visual art. Some may argue that the main element is ‘line’. But I believe we are first drawn to colour before the line.
A limited colour palette is one of the main features you would notice about abstract minimalism art. For example, many artists use two main colours, black and white as well as shades of grey.
Careful use of a single accent colour sparingly is another technique commonly popular in creating abstract minimalism art.
The emphasis is on the relationship between the main object(s) and space rather than on colour.
- Line: Delicate, precise lines are often used in abstract minimalism art. Lines are used to create a sense of movement, texture and depth. T
The lines in this art style can be simple or complex, but they are often used to highlight negative space or basic geometric shapes.
Lines are typically used to define the boundaries of shapes and to create contrast between positive and negative space. Lines can also create a sense of depth and dimensionality even on a flat surface.
You can also create texture with lines. By varying the thickness, spacing and direction of the lines, you can create a sense of surface texture, which may add visual interest to a simple composition.
- Flat surfaces: Many abstract minimalism artists use flat surfaces and smooth finishes. This creates a sense of uniformity and eliminates distractions from the shape and space.
- Geometric shapes: You can also use basic geometric shapes such as squares, rectangles, circles and triangles. These shapes are often used in a repeated pattern or arranged in a grid formation. The shapes are usually arranged in a way that creates a sense of harmony and balance.
- Symmetry: The use of symmetry is known to create a sense of harmony, balance, simplicity and order.
- Emphasis on negative space: Negative space plays a big part in abstract minimalism art. Negative space can create a sense of depth, light and openness.
- Repetition: Repetition is frequently used to create structure and order.
You can experiment with different approaches keeping in mind simplicity as the main objective of the artwork. Give it a try and let us know about the outcome.
Famous abstract minimalism art examples
I guess many of us who are interested in abstract art would recognise some of the most famous abstract art and artists. For example Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell and so many other artists.
Here is a list of some minimalist abstract artists and their artwork:
- Donald Judd (1928-1994), Untitled, 1980.
- Frank Stella (b.1936), Die Fahne Hoch!, 1959.
- Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015), Red, Yellow, Blue, White and Black II, 1953
- Dan Flavin (1933-1996), Untitled (in honour of Harold Joachim) 3, 1977.
- Agnes Martin (1912-2004), With my Back to the World, 1997. Here’s a very interesting video about: Artist Agnes Martin.
Final thoughts about abstract minimalist abstract art
Minimalist abstract art is a beautiful, unique and captivating style of art that has captured the hearts and souls of many.
Its beauty is in its simple elegance. Minimalist abstract art style makes you feel at ease and comfortable. It may look simple and easy but that is far from its creative process.
Abstract minimalism art is one of my favourites as I find it very challenging to make as I mix between minimalism and abstract non-representational art.
Composition in abstract minimalism art remains the biggest challenge. It involves very careful arrangements of some of the elements of art to create balance and harmony.
Embracing simplicity is a key principle of abstract minimalism and it is important to resist the temptation to add unnecessary elements to the artwork.
I appreciate that it can be confusing to understand the difference between abstract, minimalism and abstract minimalism art. Almost all types of art emerge as a reaction to the art type before it. There is always some sort of link between all art types and styles.
So, the next time you view a piece of abstract minimalist artwork, try to appreciate the skills behind creating such artwork.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.