Only yesterday, it seems, one could safely consider Minimalism to be art. Once the initial shock and irritation had passed, the insolent muteness of Donald Judd’s boxes, Frank Stella’s pinstripe paintings, and similar works of the Sixties registered as evidence of a dogged kind of artistic integrity. No rhetoric, no sensuousness, no recourse to “exhausted” conventions such as compositional hierarchies—just the facts. And the facts were invariably aesthetic in nature. Now, however, we learn that we've been wrong all along. Minimalism wasn’t mute; we were just deaf to its voice, a voice sharply political in character and raised in criticism of bourgeois society, the art gallery, and the museum.

Such at least was the reading we were asked to accept at a symposium held at the School of Visual Arts last February 26 entitled “The Crux of Minimalism: Style or...


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