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Postminimalism is a term utilised in various artistic fields for work which is influenced by, or attempts to develop upon the work of minimalism. The expression is used specifically in relation to music and the visual arts, but can also be employed in any field by which the subject is said to use minimalism as a critical reference point.

Visual art

In visual art it refers specifically to artists who utilise minimalism either as an aesthetic or conceptual reference point from which to develop. The term does not refer to a particular movement but rather an artistic tendency. Postminimalist artwork is often associated or confused with conceptual art; frequently a work or artist can be described as both, as it is this conceptual element which regularly distinguishes it from Minimalism. Artworks often transpose reference to everyday objects or functions onto the austerely formalist approach of their predecessors. However with such a diverse and disparate group there are no definite correlations between artists.

Examples of such work include pieces such as Water-Tower by Rachel Whiteread whereby the inside of a water-tower is cast in clear resin and displayed where the original tower stood. The purity of form found in minimalism is used, but through the application of the commonplace. An earlier example would be Eva Hesse, an artist whom developed the themes of ‘the grid’ and ‘seriality’ so often found in minimalism but through the obvious hand made approach of her works introduced an element of the human missing in the habitually machine or custom made products of minimalism. Another variant is found in the work of such artists as Tom Friedman whereby an absurdity and humour is introduced. With Untitled of 1992, Friedman asked a witch to curse the space above a gallery pedestal, as such displaying to the unknowing viewer simply the paradigmatic minimalist white cube, but with the knowledge of its production comes further understanding. As such there is an initial formalist response to the piece’s structure; secondly there is a conceptual response. This is typical of a postminimalist approach to art production.

Other artists who may be considered postminimal include:

Eva Hesse
Damian Hirst
Mona Hatoum
Gabriel Orozco
Anish Kapoor
Felix Gonzalez-Torres
Wolfgang Laib
Damian Ortega
Charles Ray


In its general musical usage, postminimalism refers to that influenced by minimal music. Writer Kyle Gann has more strictly used the term to define a widespread style that flourished in the 1980s and 1990s, characterized by

  1. a steady pulse, usually continuing throughout a work or movement;
  2. a diatonic pitch language, tonal in effect but avoiding traditional functional tonality;
  3. general evenness of dynamics, without strong climaxes or nuanced emotionalism; and
  4. unlike minimalism, an avoidance of obvious or linear formal design.

Despite this last, minimalist procedures such as additive and subtractive process are common in postminimalism, though usually in disguised form, and the style has also shown an omnivorous capacity for absorbing influences from world and popular musics (Balinese gamelan, bluegrass, Jewish cantillation, and so on).

Composers who may be considered postminimalist include:

John Adams
Eve Beglarian
David Chesworth
Robert Davidson
William Duckworth
Graham Fitkin
Peter Garland
Michael Gordon
Eleanor Hovda
Scott Johnson
David Lang
Paul Lansky
Robert Steadman
Lois V Vierk
Stephen Scott
Michael Torke
Julia Wolfe
Evan Ziporyn

For another musical style derived from minimalism, see Totalism (music).

External links

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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