{title} Minimal Maximal  
In 1966 a group of American artists held an exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York. The exhibition was titled "Primary Structures" but the work became better known as Minimal Art. As the title suggests this was an art stripped of all decoration and reduced to its extremes. Minimal Art embraced industrial materials such as concrete, stainless steel, lead and glass while making elemental forces and structures its subject. Minimal Maximal at the Chiba Museum traces the influence of this art on contemporary art of the 1990's. There are 32 artists in the exhibition and about one third of the work is Minimal Art from the 1960's and 70's. It includes some of the most important and influential artists of the period including Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt, Carl Andre and Robert Morris. There is a visual dialogue between the established art and the more recent works, which sparks an energy and interest throughout the exhibition sometimes using irreverent humor to comment on this seriously formal period of art history. Piotr Uklanski's work 'American Minimalism Meets Saturday Night Fever' is a small Plexiglas dance floor which flashes in colors to a pulsating soundtrack. This dance floor appears to mimic a combination of Carl Andre's 1969 floor piece of steel-magnesium alloy squares and Dan Flavin's colored fluorescent tubes, both of which are in the exhibition. The 'high' art of minimalism meets the 'low' art of disco dancing. A photograph by British artist John Isaacs exemplifies the exhibition's thesis of art talking about art. The photograph depicts Isaacs as a blind man, wearing dark glasses and carrying a white cane, tapping a cube the very essence of a Minimal form. The photograph's caption reads 'Ah! Donald Judd, my favorite!' This work is at once both a student prank and cheap shot at the expense of Minimalism's guru, artist Donald Judd, while also being a comment on the far-reaching influence of Minimalism. Isaacs' work astutely suggests that the elemental concepts of minimalism are such that even a blind man can 'see' them. In the same room as Isaacs' photo is a 1961 cube by Robert Morris. This immaculately crafted 24.8 cm wooden cube has, emanating from inside, noises of a woodwork shop sawing, scraping and hammering. These are the noises of the making of this box. Judd provides us with the ultimate simple object while capturing the very essence of its creation. Sol Lewitt's sparse pure white cubic structures are well known Minimalist icons. Three of his works from the late 60's and early 70's are included in this exhibition. Accompanying them are more recent works, which echo different aspects of Lewitt's art. For example Christian Phillip Muller's pyramid of 35 white cubic plastic Ikea tables resembles a Lewitt work while Franka Hornschemeyer's piece "DI 2750", a galvanized metal frame from a demolished room, examines the architectural extremes of Minimalism. Seeking to be the ultimate piece of minimal art is Lawrence Weiner's hole in the wall. The work consists of a rectangle of plasterboard museum wall removed to reveal a void and the skeleton structure of the building. Minimal Maximal is an instructive exhibition for anyone wanting to better understand the inspiration behind much recent contemporary art. It is also a witty and entertaining exhibition.

 

 

 

 

through June 3 Chiba City Museum of Art 3-10-8, Chuo, Chuo-ku, Chiba Ph: 04 3221.2311 10:00 - 18:00 (Friday - 20:00), Closed Mondays Adults Y1000 children Y500 Sobu Line Chiba Station, 10 mins walk