Katja Strunz, w.t., 2002, Wood, black paint, 210 x 65 x 34 cm
Foto: Martin Eberle, Berlin
The second exhibition on the subject of "Minimalism and After" will again present key positions in Minimal Art and examine how this movement was received and developed in the context of contemporary art.
About thirty new acquisitions will be on show, by "old masters" of abstract-minimalist art right down to the most recent approaches.
The notion of Minimal Art, like so many terms in recent art history, grew up by chance around a group of young New York artists in about 1965. In his essay "Minimal Art" the art philosopher Richard Wollheim tried to identify the "minimum art" content of some objects as a general phenomenon in 20th century American art.
At the same time, synonymous formulations started to take shape in American art history and exhibition practice, trying to define this relatively obscure phenomenon in literary terms: ABC ART, Primary Structures, Rejective Art, Cool Art or Reductive Art.
Five artists` names were at the center of attention - Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, and Robert Morris -, and they imposed a "look" on the early exhibitions: geometrically serial sculptures and wall objects that assert their sheer size and concrete material quality powerfully in the face of the surrounding space.
The historic concept of "Minimal Art" refers to these artists. It was introduced to Europe by the show of the same name in The Hague in 1968. At first, consistent approaches to painting were seen as less important, as the picture seemed discredited as the object and focus of a centuries-old view of art. But then the new term "Minimalism" was coined for the second half of the sixties, and this included a broader range of artistic media. Our series of "Minimalism and After" exhibitions, which started in 2002, begins with this extended spectrum - including sculpture, wall reliefs, painting and drawing.
Our new acquisitions by artists from three generations start in time terms with two outsiders from art events, John McLaughlin (1898-1976. USA) and Hermann Glöckner (1889-1987, D), who nevertheless produced high quality work individually.
Jules Langser coined the phrase "Hard Edge" in 1959 in a study of McLaughlin´s reductionist painting, which concentrated on black, white and very few colors. Hard Edge criteria like the geometrical shape of the color fields and color sequences, formal economy and perfection in terms of paint application, and finally the pictures` emphatic object quality and visual presence prepared the way for Minimalism.
While McLaughlin was working on "absolutely abstract" and non-referential painting-as-painting in Los Angeles, Hermann Glöckner, who was just under eighty, was developing his Faltungen (Folds) in Dresden, in complete isolation from the GDR art of the day. These works are surprisingly close to Robert Smithson`s folded wall reliefs dating from 1963-65. Both these approaches, which developed without any knowledge of each other, were later echoed in Katja Strunz`s (b. 1970, D) wall reliefs.
The Polish artist Henryk Stazewski`s (1884-1998) ideas were also shaped without contact from the world of Western art. His white tableau reliefs dating from the sixties and later pictures are interpreted in our context as a European and Constructivist variety of minimalist pictorial art.
David Novros, an important early minimalist painter, was an admirer of McLaughlin. And series of stripe pictures started in 1959 by Gene Davis - who has remained just as unknown as Novros in Europe - could represent a reaction to McLaughlin, as well as showing the influence of Barnett Newman.
Hanne Darboven (born in 1941 like Novros) arrived in New York in 1966 and established the basic constants of her work in her encounters with Minimal Art, especially with Sol LeWitt. Her serial sequences of numbers and geometrical figures, along with the Frankfurt artist Charlotte Posenenske`s sculptures, are among the most important European contributions to Minimalism.
Following one of the DaimlerChrysler Collection`s continuing focal points, the selection of new acquisitions tries to reflect discussion in contemporary art. Wolfgang Berkowski (b 1960, D), Stephen Bram (b 1961, AUS), Benoit Gollety (b 1974, F), Esther Hiepler (b 1966, D), and Michael Zahn (b 1963, USA) all developed quite independent groups of works in the nineties linking up with various aspects of Minimalism and formulating and fleshing them out them further; typically, they work with a reduced formal vocabulary, emphasize the picture`s object, material and visual qualities, and restrict themselves to simple basic structures.