Aesthetic Exploration – Minimalism


Piet Mondrian – Line over form,

Minimalism was developed in the United States in the 1960s. It is a form of abstract art that uses simple shapes such as squares and rectangles. The idea is that the art is valuable in and of itself rather than an attempt to imitate or make commentary about something else (1). It is a type of conceptual art that challenged the prevailing ideas about what constituted a piece of artwork at the time.


Many people disagreed that minimalism was a form of art at all because of its incredibly simple nature. Its critics might argue that true art requires more effort to be put forth into its creation and that the result should have meaning beyond itself. However, supporters of the movement argue that, “importance given to [an] art object is misplaced and leads to a rigid and elitist art world which only the privileged few can afford to enjoy” (1).

Two Open Modular Cubes/Half-Off 1972 Sol LeWitt 1928-2007 Purchased 1974


One of the major contributors to the minimalist movement was Frank Stella. One of his famous quotes that emphasizes the idea of minimalism was, “What you see is what you see”. This captures the idea that his art was not symbolic of anything else, it was art for its own sake and represented a unique reality (1).

Creo Study – Sunset Getaway,

Minimalist art finds beauty through simplicity. An example of a piece where this is obvious is an untitled piece by Donald Judd (2). It is simply a box that consists of five panels attached with only a few fasteners. The colors give the appearance of rust on the outside and velvet on the inside.

Untitled 1972 Donald Judd 1928-1994 Presented by the American Fund for the Tate Gallery 1992


Another example is ‘144 Magnesium Square’ by Carl Andre (3). As its name suggests, the piece is a quilt of magnesium tiles laid out in a 12 by 12 configuration to create a flat square. Each smaller square is a slightly different shade of dark gray which makes it possible to distinguish each individual piece. Once again, this work does not have any deeper meaning or philosophical significance, it is just a square made of squares and that’s good enough.

144 Magnesium Square 1969 Carl Andre born 1935 Purchased 1973


The minimalist aesthetic has become widespread and is a valuable tool for designers and engineers. Today minimalism is a popular style for interior decorating and has been embraced by many people. Minimalism has even grown into a way of living that emphasizes only having the things that add value to your life and discarding the rest. For example, instead of having an elaborate chandelier in your living room, you might opt for a single circular light with no decorations at all.


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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Hey Collin,

    I really like how you kept reiterating the point about the minimalist art form existing for its own sake of art. I would say that sometimes I tend to have the same critiques as some of the people dismissing the art form in the beginning at times due to the simplicity of some art pieces so this was an interesting realization to learn about. Would you say that you tend to have the same dismissive tone toward very simplistic art pieces as well?

    • Collin Ruprecht
      January 29, 2024 12:37 pm

      For me it depends on the intent and the effort put into the piece. I think that minimalist art is still art as long as the artist has put thought and effort into the piece.

  • Thanks for teaching me a few things about minimalism, it was a good read. I liked how you gave different perspectives on whether this aesthetic is an art. It was also a nice addition to include other uses for it when you mentioned interior design.


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