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Christopher Want

Term used in the 20th century, in particular from the 1960s, to describe a style characterized by an impersonal austerity, plain geometric configurations, and industrially processed materials. It was first used by Burlyuk family, §1 in the catalogue introduction for an exhibition of John Graham’s paintings at the Dudensing Gallery in New York in 1929. Burlyuk wrote: ‘Minimalism derives its name from the minimum of operating means. Minimalist painting is purely realistic—the subject being the painting itself.’ The term gained currency in the 1960s. Accounts and explanations of Minimalism varied considerably, as did the range of work to which it was related. This included the monochrome paintings of Yves Klein, Robert Rauschenberg, Ad(olph Dietrich Friedrich) Reinhardt (see fig.), Frank Stella, and Brice Marden, and even aspects of Pop art and Post-painterly Abstraction. Typically the precedents cited were Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades, the Suprematist compositions of Kazimir Malevich, and Barnett Newman’s Abstract Expressionist paintings. The rational grid paintings of ...

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(b Buffalo, NY, Dec 24, 1913; d New York, Aug 30, 1967).

American painter and writer. He was renowned for his work as an abstract painter and for his influence on Minimalism; he also wrote and lectured throughout his life, using these forms to deal with matters he felt were best left out of painting. He set his date of birth in the context of a personal, cultural, and political chronology, describing it as having taken place nine months after the Armory Show had ended, on the eve of Europe’s entry into World War I and during the year in which Kazimir Malevich painted the first geometric abstract painting. Extensive travel throughout the world fed his encyclopedic interests.

Reinhardt studied (1931–5) literature and then art history under Meyer Schapiro at Columbia University, New York, where he gained a broad-based arts education; also under Schapiro’s influence he became involved in what were then considered radical campus politics. Reinhardt was editor of the humorous campus publication ...