"The more stuff in it, the busier the work of art, the worse it is. More is Less. Less is More." Ad Reinhardt.
Sleek lines, pared-back shapes and reductive simplicity reign at Heide's major new exhibition, Less is More. Devoted to Australian minimalism and post-minimalism, the show explores this late-modernist movement through seminal paintings, sculptures, video and light works from the 1960s onward. Key Australian works are highlighted, while classic examples of American minimalism are also on show, nodding to the movement's New York origins.
While minimal art first emerged in the US, its influence quickly spread to 1960s Melbourne and Sydney, with a young generation of Australian artists embracing the progressive movement and producing radical, exciting works, distinguished by their extreme simplicity, geometric, modular forms and hard, industrial surfaces. The artists found this reductive aesthetic to rich with meaning. As artist Elizabeth Gower explains, “Minimalism represents refined order – streamlined, reductive, straightforward and contemplative. It is what it is, an antithesis of the complexities of daily life.”
Curator Sue Cramer explains that while radical at the time, minimalism has had a lasting legacy. “Several ideas stemming from minimalism, though controversial in the 1960s, are now widely accepted; for example, that the artwork can be fabricated by someone other than the artist; or that it can comprise modules or units used singularly or repeated as a series,” she says.
“Many artists today explore the art object’s relationship to architectural space and the role of the spectator, ideas that also come from minimal art. Because of this currency, I felt the time was right for a reassessment of minimal art’s significance and its enduring influence.”
Heide's comprehensive survey includes work from over 30 Australian artists, such as Robert Jacks, Mikala Dwyer and Elizabeth Gower, and key American works from the likes of Donald Judd, Dan Flavin and Robert Morris. The works on display are striking and monumental. Among the many highlights are Flavin’s ‘monument’ to V. Tatlin, which is assembled from fluorescent tubes, and Robert Jacks' Red Cut Piece (45–90?), tackling the concept of the minimalist grid format.
So head out to Heide this Sunday. Stay for lunch at Cafe Vue and wander the gardens. A small drive from the city and a good dose of art while you're at it.
Less is More shows at Heide until November 4.