Definition of Minimalism

The term "Minimalism" came into existence in the 1960 and early 1970s. It was born as a movement in New York when artists created objects with blurred boundaries between paintings and sculptures, eliminating non-essential features and forms. Minimalism is a style which uses the simplest elements to create the maximum effect. Land and Environmental Art evolved in the 1960 as a movement to transition from depicting the traditional landscape to engaging it in works of art.

Minimalism as a Form of Environmental Art

Roberts Smithson was one of the first to combine Minimalism and Environmental Art. In fact, he was a key figure among those who produced the works of land art or earthworks (as Environmental Art was also called). Robert Smithson became interested in minimalism and used materials that were new to the art world. One of his prime interests was entropy and the sculpture of crystalline structures.

In the late 1960s, when Robert Smithson was exploring industrial areas, he became captivated as he watched large masses of rock and stone removed. That birthed an inspiration in him to create land art. He produced many works and one of his central pieces is the Spiral Jetty, which he created on the shore of the Great Salt Lake. The artist used earth, rock, red algae and salt to produce his jetty in 1970.

One of the main concepts that Smithson realized in his art was dealing with three-dimensional space. His interest was based on land deformities. Smithson and other similar artists viewed areas changed or damaged by urbanization or industry as their field of activity. He insisted that human intervention could benefit the landscape.

Three-dimensional works produced by Minimalist artists engage a wide range of materials to involve both the viewer and the surrounding space. Robert Smithson used mirrors as his material because they, in his view, presented both physical material and the reflection. Minimalists believed that a work of art was not designed to refer to anything other than itself. The artist's expression was not the central theme the work was given complete literal presence.


Minimalism found very good expression in Environmental Art. It became a movement, that led to producing a trend where three-dimensional space and new materials became a new way of expression and moved art from halls to open spaces.

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