Reductive Minimalism: Women Artists in Dialogue, 1960—2014

October 4, 2014 - January 25, 2015

Nearly fifty years after its heyday, Minimalism is enjoying a resurgence of critical attention, though much of the focus continues to be on male artists or on a small number of women sculptors. Reductive Minimalism: Women Artists in Dialogue, 1960-2014 offers a fresh perspective on the movement and its evolution, bringing together formative works from two generations of women Minimalist painters to examine and celebrate the dialogue between them.
Minimalism was born in the late 1950s as a reaction to the perceived hubris and theatricality of Abstract Expressionism. But though its most prominent, mostly male, practitioners favored an aesthetic of clean geometry and essential forms, the hubris remained—in oversized works with grandiose themes. Women Minimalist painters, however, took a more restrained or reductive approach, one more intimate in scale, more personal in narrative, and more open-ended in its experimentation with pure surface, color, and texture.
Many of these women—Agnes Martin and Mary Corse among them—worked outside the New York art world and outside the critical discourse that would have offered them support and recognition. Gender politics, though not necessarily the impetus for their work, played a role in the circumstances of where and how they practiced. In spite of their relative isolation, their work had a profound influence on the current generation of women minimalist painters—including Tauba Auerbach and R.H. Quaytman—who have global exposure and who are celebrated in a varied and robust critical environment. In the gallery, Reductive Minimalism traces the conversation between these two generations in an installation of nine pairs of paintings, to reveal the call-and-response of their artistic symbiosis.

Lead support for the exhibition Reductive Minimalism: Women Artists in Dialogue, 1960-2014 is provided by the University of Michigan Office of the Provost, the University of Michigan Health System, and the Richard and Rosann Noel Endowment Fund. Additional generous support is provided by the Susan and Richard Gutow Fund, Elaine Pitt, the University of Michigan CEW Frances and Sydney Lewis Visiting Leaders Fund and Department of the History of Art, the Katherine Tuck Enrichment Fund, and the Doris Sloan Memorial Fund.

Images

Dorothea Rockburne, Fire Engine Red, 1967, wrinkle finish oil paint on aluminum, University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of the Lannan Foundation in Honor of the Pelham Family, 1997/1.136.1-2

Agnes Martin, Untitled, 1974, acrylic, pencil and Shiva gesso on canvas, Collection of Cranbrook Art Museum, Gift of Rose M. Shuey from the Dr. John and Rose M. Shuey Collection, CAM 2002.22, Photographer: R. H. Hensleigh, © 2014 Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Svenja Deininger, Untitled, 2014, oil on canvas, Private Collection, Image courtesy of Marianne Boesky Gallery, ©Svenja Deininger 2014

Anne Truitt, Sandcastle, 1963, acrylic on wood, University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. H. Gates Lloyd, 1984/2.57

Timeline

Exhibition Timeline

SatOct 4
Exhibition Opens
Sat
Oct 4
EXHIBITION OPENING: Reductive Minimalism: Women Artists in Dialogue, 1960-2014
11:00am5:00pm
Exhibitions Related
Sun
Nov 16
UMMA Dialogue: Two Generations of Women Minimalist Painters
3:00pm4:30pm
Artists and Curators / Exhibitions Related / Gallery Talks and Tours
Sat
Nov 22
SMTD@UMMA: Benny Green: Lineage
7:00pm9:00pm
Exhibitions Related / Performing Arts
SunJan 25
Exhibition Closes