For this final post I thought I would talk about a piece of minimalist art that I really, really like. Yesterday I wrote about how some artist used minimalism as a means of showing that art can have no meaning--that it's just an object. Today, I'll write about how minimalism can be used to represent some very big ideas. The piece of art de jour:
It's the Vietnam Veterans Memorial by Maya Ying Lin.
In case you've never been there before, let me describe it to you. Ahem. It's a huge granite "V" cut into the ground with the names of dead soldiers on it. It doesn't sound like much, but it's the most visited memorial in Washington D.C. People are often moved to tears when they visit it, even those who don't know anyone who fought in the war. I think it's because of what the wall represents.
The wall is effective because it doesn't try to portray the war. The war is too big of an idea, too emotionally charged to be effectively represented. A sculpture of a soldier wouldn't do it justice. (Interestingly, there is another Vietnam sculpture that was made because this one sparked so much controversy. It's a depiction of three soldiers standing in their uniforms. I don't think it's nearly as effective.) So Maya Lin chose a different route. She decided that by using minimalist art, she could bypass the usual route and get straight at the symbolism. She thought of the bulldozers ripping into the ground as the war itself, leaving behind a deep scar. The grass would eventually grow back, but the scar will always remain.
Sometimes we want to have something simple represent something bigger. This collection of punctuation marks can represent something: (^.^)! Or think of a wedding ring. That's a great example of some simple object representing a huge concept. I remember when Chris came home from his mission, during his homecoming talk he said he didn't want to share any stories from his mission because it wouldn't do it justice. Maybe he could use a type of minimalist memorial like this one.
So that's it on abstract art! I hope you all have learned a lot and appreciate it a little bit. Sure, you probably could make a lot of modern art yourself in like 5 minutes, but that's not the point. The point is the ideas behind the idea, and that's a lot harder to think up. There was a big painting that I saw when I went on my class trip to Barcelona which was just a big diagonal line across the canvas. The inscription next to the painting read:
"This painting took a lifetime to prepare for, an instant to create."