‘There is a problem with minimal art: it never existed. At least, for most of the artists …it was at best meaningless and at worst a frustratingly misleading term’. David Batchelor, in his book, Minimalism, sets out to find the common ground among five celebrated minimalist artists, Carl Andre, Don Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol Le Witt and Robert Morris. He also notes that the similarities are also the ground on which differences are developed. [Batchelor, 1997: 6] James Meyer, in his book, Minimalism: art and polemics in the sixties, takes seriously the claim of Le Witt that no one has successfully defined minimalism. Rather, Meyer presents minimalism as a critical debate that developed in response to the three-dimensional work of, among others, Andre, Judd, Anne Truitt, Morris, Flavin, and Le Witt. Their work invited an unusual amount of critical attention and minimalism cannot be understood apart from the extraordinary debates that surrounded the new art. [Meyer, 2001: 3-5]

Written for Arts Yearbook 8 in 1965, Donald Judd’s seminal essay, ‘Specific Objects’, challenged Greenbergian modernism and set forward ideas for art to move beyond painting and sculpture. It is a highly selective account that weighed the merits of recent practices and their relevance to the new work. [Meyer, 2001: 134] Judd began his essay by stating that the best new work in recent years is neither painting nor sculpture but particular forms producing fairly definite qualities. He stated that the use of three dimensions were an obvious alternative to move away from, and against painting and sculpture, and that these negative reasons were what held the diverse new works in common. [Judd, 1965: 181] Judd claimed his objections to painting and sculpture were not a judgement on the developments of the latest advances in modernist art but ‘a disinterest in doing it again’. [Judd, 1965: 181] 

Read more: Minimalism: it never existed but its influence is everywhere.