Sept. 10 – Nov. 6, 2005
Opening Reception, Friday, Sept. 9, 7 - 10 pm
Minimalism’s impact on subsequent generations forms the exhibition Reduced. Post-Minimalism is a loosely defined aesthetic category that utilizes the preceding movement’s deliberate economy of formal means to explore a range of concerns including process, the dematerialization of the object, and conceptual ideas. The exhibition features work from John Baldessari, Frances Trombly, Tom Scicluna, and Frank Wick.
Artist Talk: Thursday, Oct. 6, 7 pm
Local artists Tom Scicluna and Frank Wick from the Reduced exhibition will discuss their work.
Defining Modernism as an art historical term is a slippery task. Modernism refers to the period from about 1860 to 1970; it was not a cohesive movement, but is tied together through the desire to create a new visual language. Modernism began during the Industrial Revolution, during which art began to reflect the new scientific discoveries that questioned the reliability of perception. Shaken by these new discoveries, representational art actually seemed more unrealistic: Post-Impressionism, Cubism, and Dadaism are early examples of movements that ditched the old conventions of color, composition, and form to explore new ways of seeing. Modernism’s main goal was to explore the purity of a medium, whether painting, sculpture, poetry, or music.
Following World War II, modern art-making and theory grew more reductive. By the 1960s, Minimalism brought the Modernist movement to its logical extreme. Powered by its undeniable beauty, cerebral and self-refining exclusivity, Minimalism’s sole aim was to explore “truth to materials,” eliminating the hand of the artist as much as possible. With Minimalism, there is no attempt to represent an outside reality; the artist wants the viewer to respond only to what is in front of him, the material it is made from, and the form it takes — that is the reality of the work. Minimalism, the extreme form of Modernism, is best expressed by painter Frank Stella’s philosophy, “What you see is what you see.” Abstract artists Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth believed in staying true to the inner beauty of stone and wood: Minimalist artists extended that logic to manufactured materials: Dan Flavin to florescent lights and Carl André to bricks.
Just as modern culture was driven by the need to come to terms with an industrial age, Post-Modernism has been driven by the electronic age. By the 1980s, a booming art market fatally undermined the romantic image of the artist as the alienated outsider, while the divisions between popular culture and art began to collide. The deconstructive tendencies of post-modern times resurrected Minimalism, impacting a new generation of artists. A loosely defined term, Post-Minimalism fuses reductive aesthetic sensibilities with a range of concerns, including process, the dematerialization of the object, and conceptual ideas.
An early example of Post-Minimalism can be seen in the 1971 John Baldessari video, I Am Making Art, included in the Reduced exhibition. Baldessari’s deadpan irreverence of endless awkward gestures while repeating the statement, “I am making art,” hovers between a spoof on art-making and serious intention. Works in the Reduced exhibition emphasize the subtle ways in which the Minimalist artists of today examine mathematical, geometric, and logical formalism, while questioning those very methods and goals. The works elevate the importance of process on its own terms, focusing attention on the examination of contemporary culture. Along with John Baldessari, included in the Reduced exhibition are three contemporary South Florida artists: Tom Scicluna, Frances Trombly, and Frank Wick.
Frances Trombly’s process-oriented works are made by laboriously weaving, crocheting, and cross-stitching replicas of common everyday items. In the vein of Minimalisms’ tradition, utilizing objects of man-made materials; Trombly reinterprets this idea through rendering a slab of plywood or a pile of crumpled notebook paper out of yarn, creating the illusion that is store bought. Despite the rigorous, perhaps even obsessive or compulsive methodologies of these works, they are deeply personal, attempting always to infuse the human presence of the artist and viewer within the work and our experience of it.
“When ghosts appear, it’s like someone blowing cold air on the back of your neck, your hair stands on end and you breathe out a cold vapor … Stay quiet for a while and see if you feel anything.” One might recall this line taken from the movie The Sixth Sense while walking though Tom Scicluna’s installation. Scicluna’s work in this exhibition revolves around the history of the Art and Culture Center’s building, once inhabited by a funeral home during the 1960s and 70s. The piece limbolimbo utilizes objects left behind in a room that was once used for embalming, an old industrial cabinet door, and a Native American dream catcher, colliding together like a doorway into another dimension.
Finally, Frank Wick’s work is tied together through a dark sense of humor, poking fun at a forlorn world of winners and losers and the “survival of the fittest.” Winner, made from bacon grease, uses language to illustrate humans’ ability to produce text as an advantage over animals and thus the right to eat them, rendering humans as the “winner.” Wick’s video, Spirit of 2001, employs a rolling blue screen and the slightly hopeful whistling sound of the Star Trek theme as a nostalgic and whimsical suggestion of infinite aloneness.
Curator of Exhibitions