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MINIMALISM


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What is Minimalism? How did it come about? How has it impacted art and architecture?

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Early Modernism Erik Gunnar Asplund (1885-1940, Sweden) Was originally known as a neoclassical architect but adopted Modernist design sensibilities during the period between world wars. Frequently collaborated with Sigurd Lewerentz, and Alvar Aalto considered him to be a major influence.

Minimalism Donald Judd (1928-1994, America) Studied philosophy and acquired a master’s degree in Art History. Sustained himself by writing art criticisms for magazines and maintained working friendships with artists such as Dan Flavin and John Chamberlain.

Contemporary Minimalism Peter Zumthor (1943-, Switzerland) Apprenticed as a carpenter, attended an Arts Academy in Switzerland and completed his architectural training at the Pratt Institute.

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Le Corbusier, “Towards a New Architecture”

Erik Gunnar Asplund Post World War I: Disgusted with Nationalist views that contributed to the initiation of World War I, some architects began rejecting the old cultural forms and developed an internationalist world view. Their designs embraced modern technology, new materials and a functionalist outlook on living.

El Lissitzky, “Lenin Tribute”, 1922

Swedish Exhibition Signage

In 1928, Asplund was sent on a tour of Europe by the Swedish Exposition Committee for inspiration for his pavilion designs. When he returned his designs demonstrated his new interest in Functionalism, Constructivism, Industrialism and the reductive aesthetic being developed in greater Europe. He recognized the efficiency and brilliance in the new materials for his termporary and quickly-constructed exhibition projects.

“To a new architecture and a new life” - Gunnar Asplund

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Donald Judd The 1960’s: During a time of social revolution, including the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam war protests and the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement, Donald Judd rejected the usual way of composing nonrepresentational art by adding his own kind of clarity to art making. Judd had a difficult time understanding and producing abstract expressionism which gave way to believing that art did not need to be representational.

"The Essence of Abstract Expressionism "

The art of the time was composed by mixing, balancing, and harmonizing the various parts in order to create a whole greater then the sum of its parts. Judd’s sculptures are simply wholes - no more, no less. Each piece has clearly defined parts, and the parts are either separated or attached to fill out these limits. Donald Judd fought against artistic conventions and constraints. He actively questioned the nature of art, the job of the artist and the methods of galleries.

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Peter Zumthor Contemporary Society: Technology has helped to create a world where people move too quickly through space and are disconnected from physical reality. Peter Zumthor wants people to slow down, and rejects the virtual world as he designs for an architecture that needs to be experienced in person. He comes from a hands-on background of carpentry and woodworking, refuses to have a website showcasing his works, and writes very little about his projects.

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DESIGN PRINCIPLES : MASS

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Erik Gunnar Asplund

Design Principles: MASS

STOCKHOLM CITY LIBRARY The library is a simple prismatic mass, easily comprehended as a cylinder resting on a square base

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Donald Judd

Design Principles: MASS

15 WORKS IN CONCRETE The works are comprised of pure geometries resting on the floor or cantilevered from the wall. Vibrant primary colours and manufactured materials clearly define the edges. “I was surprised when I made those first two freestanding pieces, to have something set out into the middle of the room. It puzzled me. On the one hand, I didn’t quite know what to make of it, and on the other, they suddenly seemed to have an enormous number of possibilities.” -Donald Judd minimalism • 10


Peter Zumthor

Design Principles: MASS

VALS THERMAL BATHS An interplay between stone and water; a juxtaposition between solid and void. The diagram to the right is the initial conception of “Boulders standing in water”. The play of interior masses on the floor plan directly translates into the final Thermal Baths building. minimalism • 11


DESIGN PRINCIPLES : LIGHT

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Erik Gunnar Asplund

Design Principles: LIGHT

SKOGSKAPELLET Deliberate preservation and addition of trees exaggerate the contrast between the rough and dark texture of the forest and the geometric purity of the chapel and its brightly lit interior

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Erik Gunnar Asplund

SKOGSKAPELLET A central skylight illuminates the white painted interior of the chapel

Design Principles: LIGHT


Peter Zumthor

Design Principles: LIGHT

VALS THERMAL BATHS

The collection of interior spaces of the thermal baths engage the user, through a variety of sensory experiences. Light acts as a procession through the collection of spaces. Movement is not directed or controlled but the user is free to be draw to certain light sources, with blue and red lights indicating the temperature of pools in each chamber. A stip lighting detail is used in the ceilings, to allow the natural light to penetrate the spaces and act as a guide along corridors and around corners.

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Donald Judd

Design Principles: LIGHT

LIGHT Towards the end of his career, Judd became interested in materiality and light. His works developed a sensitivity to natural light, exploring changes in character and solidity at different times of the day. Coloured plexiglass, relective metals and smooth painted surfaces allowed him to create complexity with simple surfaces.

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DESIGN PRINCIPLES : STRUCTURE

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Erik Gunnar Asplund

Design Principles: STRUCTURE

WOODLAND CEMETERY A three dimensional grid system utilizes abstract walls and columns to arrange and compose the built forms.

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Donald Judd

Design Principles: STRUCTURE

CHAIR The concept of structure coexists with the overall shape of the object. Object and structure become one and the same, without an indication of structural hierarchy. Judd attempts to blur componential aspects into one primary object, emphasizing its wholeness and simplicity.

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Peter Zumthor

Design Principles: STRUCTURE

CHAPEL OF ST. BENEDICT Wood from the surrounding environment forms the primary structural building material, and amplifies its beauty through simple and clean detailing. The interior structure of the chapel becomes the defining element of the space. He gently pulls away the structure from the exterior wall, allowing it to elegantly hold up the roof and draw diffuse light into the chapel. minimalism • 20


DESIGN PRINCIPLES : RITUAL

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Peter Zumthor

Design Principles: STRUCTURE

VALS THERMAL BATHS Zumthor creates a ritual of the bath. He heightens a simple human activity into a multi-faceted phenomenological experience. He engages the user through light, touch, smell, and sound. He creates an internal spatial experience through harmonizing the senses, to create an unprecedented sensory engagement. minimalism • 22


DESIGN PRINCIPLES : LANDSCAPE

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Erik Gunnar Asplund

Design Principles: LANDSCAPE

SKOGSKYRKOGARDEN The extent of the Woodland Crematorium is defined by a wall. The buildings appear to dissolve into the forest behind like a ruined, ancient city while the low wall provides a hard edge to the rest of the open, manicured site

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Donald Judd

Design Principles: LANDSCAPE

15 WORKS IN CONCRETE The natural landscape is just another plane for the art object to rest upon. The art creates an internal atmospsphere negating external relationships.

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Peter Zumthor

Design Principles: LANDSCAPE

VALS THERMAL BATHS

Zumthor elegantly respects the surrounding context by enhancing site characteristics. The Thermal Baths masterfully sit into the hillside of Vals, acting as a natural rock form in the landscape. The stone that makes up the floor and walls surfaces of the baths is quarried from the local hills. He frequently employs local materials, like the wood in the Chapel of St. Benedict. minimalism • 26


DESIGN PRINCIPLES : ORDER

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Donald Judd

Design Principles: ORDER

ORDER Judd insists on the independance of things - a commitment fundamental to his art and life. Modular objects at regular intervals reinforces a lack of hierarchy, and the equal status of each element.

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Peter Zumthor

Design Principles: ORDER

VALS THERMAL BATHS An early diagram of the Thermal Baths demonstrates that rom inception the project is crafted by how one moves through a series of interior spaces. The diagram demonstrates the ideology of how the user engages the building. The experience of spaces are key in the amplification of the sensory experience one has as they move through the baths.

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DESIGN PRINCIPLES : CONTAINMENT

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Erik Gunnar Asplund

Design Principles: CONTAINMENT

GOTHENBURG LAW COURTS There is a sense of openness to the atrium extension as skylights flood the space with natural light, curving wood walls provide smooth edges and warmth, and openings in the upper floor plates extend space vertically. The atrium is intended to ease the tension of visitors facing the law by feeling un-enclosed and un-opressive. minimalism • 31


Erik Gunnar Asplund

Design Principles: CONTAINMENT

GOTHENBURG LAW COURTS The exterior courtyard and the new atrium appear to be one bright, continuous space with the use of a full-height glass wall.

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Donald Judd

Design Principles: CONTAINMENT

CONTAINMENT Judd experimented with room-sized installations where the experience became the entire facilitation, not just the art. Using contemporary material, Judd uses expansion and contraction of space around the enclosure to define atmpsphere. He then moved onto works about openess and defined the space. minimalism • 33


Peter Zumthor

Design Principles: CONTAINMENT

KUNSTHAUS BREGENS GALLERY Through detailing and natural lighting, the ceiling plane dissolves and walls feel like the only enclosure forming the room. The subtle material palette forms a subtle backdrop to enhance the power of the artwork.

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DESIGN PRINCIPLES : REPETITION

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Erik Gunnar Asplund

Design Principles: REPETITION

GOTHENBURG LAW COURTS The modern facade of the extension to the law courts pays homage to the heritage building with careful mimicry of horizontal and vertical elements, and adds a playful edge with the asymmetrical positioning of the windows minimalism • 36


Donald Judd

Design Principles: REPETITION

REPETITION Repetition allows for multiple points of view of the same object at once. Variations of form occuring at regular intervals have no sense of hierarchy; all parts are equally valued providing a sense of unity. Together simple elements become complex. minimalism • 37


Peter Zumthor

Design Principles: REPETITION

KUNSTHAUS BREGENS GALLERY Simplicity is beauty. Here the repetition of a unitized space frame facade system creates a image of a unified whole. Zumthor’s aim is the engagement within the building, through the repetition of a mystifying facade system, a dialogue is created to draw the user into the interior and main attraction the art - rather than the architecture. minimalism • 38


DESIGN PRINCIPLES : VOLUME


Erik Gunnar Asplund

Design Principles: VOLUME

GOTHENBURG LAW COURTS The interior stair with clock tower and the exposed elevator shaft reinforce the sense of the atrium space as an interior piazza, encircled by open balconies. minimalism • 40


Donald Judd

Design Principles: VOLUME

VOLUME Judd was fascinated with working with real space - not the illusion of depth created by paintings on a flat canvas. He defined volumes with the edges of forms (ex. in between repeated elements, space between disconected objects, and negative spaces), and through subtraction. from pure geometries.

PRINCIPLES

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Peter Zumthor

Design Principles: VOLUME

KUNSTHAUS BREGENS GALLERY

Peter Zumthor’s architecture is ideology is the creation of an architecture that enhances the image of the surrounding fabric. His volumetric forms, are traditionally geometric always elegantly fitting into the context. The volumetric form, is the housing of the interior, and interior that must ultimately enhance the functions of a project. His volumetric manifestations are resultants of the needs and uses of the interior spaces.

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DESIGN PRINCIPLES : ESSENCE

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Erik Gunnar Asplund

Design Principles: ESSENCE

THE STOCKHOLM EXHIBITION, 1930 “The Exhibition was a marvelous and strange construction in which the Russian-Constructivist idiom was commercialized and capitalized on; the political turned into commercial advertising” -Marc Treib

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Donald Judd

Design Principles: ESSENCE

ESSENCE He believed that art did not need to represent anything, not figure, gesture or movement that it could be understood simply as art - and that materials, colour and volume could have power in themselves. minimalism • 45


Peter Zumthor

Design Principles: ESSENCE

KUNSTHAUS BREGENS GALLERY

Zumthor wants his buildings to allow the user to experience themselves - through emotional response and physical sensations - and connect to a place. He believes that architecture does not need an underlying meaning to be powerful. “Architecture is not a vehicle or a symbol for things that do not belong to its essence. In a society which celebrates the inessential, architecture can put up a resistance, counteract the waste of forms and meanings, and speak its own language.” -Peter Zumthor from Ruby, Sachs and Ursprung, “Minimal Architecture,” 2003, p18. minimalism • 46


DESIGN PRINCIPLES : EXPRESSION


Erik Gunnar Asplund

Design Principles: EXPRESSION

SKOGSKYRKOGARDEN Asplund employs many means to reinforce the themes of aging, death and birth at the Crematorium.The railroad station clock is bent over as if exhausted. minimalism • 48


Erik Gunnar Asplund

Design Principles: EXPRESSION

SKOGSKYRKOGARDEN The lamps in the forecourts of the chapels are in the form of candle snuffers and the entrances to the cremation ovens in the shape of caskets

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Erik Gunnar Asplund

Design Principles: EXPRESSION

The full forms of the great grass covered knolls and tree-lined meditation grove suggest the opposing theme of birth through reference to the fertile female form.

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Donald Judd

Design Principles: EXPRESSION

EXPRESSION Judd did not grasp Abstract Expressionism - the prevalent art force in New York during the 1950’s. Instead, he outsourced the manufacture of his pieces, denying the need to demonstrate the artist and human emotion in his work. He embraced machine-made materials so that the art could speak for itself. minimalism • 51


Peter Zumthor

Design Principles: EXPRESSION

BRUDER KLASS CHAPEL The expression of Peter Zumthor’s work can be largely seen in his core principle of engaging sensory experience. This interior perspective, looking upward within the chapel, is a defining image. The user is invoked by light penetrating an oculus, and surrounded by walls cast out of forms of burnt out trees. The mastery of Peter Zumthor’s expression is summarized in this image. The expression of the interior, is to ultimately enhance the uses of the space through engaging sensory experience. minimalism • 52


MINIMALISM


Minimalism

Develops as a reaction and rebellion against disputed contextual ideologies and institutions, such as nationalism, expressionism, excess and detachment from the physical world. Works are stripped down to their most fundamental features, but find complexity in the study of light, materiality, structure and volume. Power and meaning is to be found in the work itself. Historical and expressive content is reduced to a minimum, if not non-existent. Detailing is careful and essential to achieving the reductionist aesthetic. Geometric forms, equality of parts, repetition of elements, neutral suraces and industrial materials are common characteristics of minimalist works.

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Resources Batchelor, David. “Minimalism,” Cambridge University Press,1997. B. Jones, Peter. Modern Architecture Through Case Studies. Architectural Press. Oxford. 2002. p. 161-176 Cantz, Hatje, “Donald Judd: Architecture,” MAK Applied Arts, Germany, 2003. “Donald Judd”, The Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, 1978. “Donald Judd,” Waddington Galleries, London, 1986. Paavilainen, Simo. Hundred Years from the birth of Asplund. Arkkitehti, 1986. No.4. p. 52-59 Plummer, Henry. “The Architecture of Natural Light,” The Monacelli Press, China, 2009. Ruby, Sachs and Ursprung, “Minimal Architecture,” Prestel, Munich, 2003. Treib, Marc. A Reconciliation with History: Gunnar Asplund and an Architecture of the past. Architecture and Urbanism, April 1991. p. 38-65 Wrede, Stuart. The Architecture of Erik Gunnar Asplund. MIT Press. 1980 www.installationart.net www.juddfoundation.org www.moma.org Images: Corbusier image: www.worldarchitecturenews.com Thermal Baths:

Plummer, Henry. “The Architecture of Natural Light,” The Monacelli Press, China, 2009.

Blue wall curved art: www.artreview.com Judd Copper Box: Batchelor, David. “Minimalism,” Cambridge University Press,1997.

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Resources continued... 15 Works in Concrete: Ruby, Sachs and Ursprung, “Minimal Architecture,” Prestel, Munich, 2003. www.chinati.org www.unc.edu Steel boxes in Mafta, Texas gallery space: Cantz, Hatje, “Donald Judd: Architecture,” MAK Applied Arts, Germany, 2003. Ville Snellman Elevations: http://diffusive.wordpress.com/2009/09/22/gunnar-asplund-villa-snellman-1917-18/ Gothenburg Law Courts Interior Piazza http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4d/Asplund_R%C3%A5dhusannexet_G%C3%B6teborg_06_(pho to_by_Seier_on_flickr).jpg http://www.flickr.com/photos/pg/2362888941/ http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e2/Asplund_R%C3%A5dhusannexet_G%C3%B6teborg_04_(phot o_by_Seier_on_flickr).jpg Skogskapellet Interior http://www.skogskyrkogarden.se/en/media/ Skogskapellet Exterior http://www.flickr.com/photos/pg/2814171363/ Skogskapellet Sections and Elevations Treib, Marc. A Reconciliation with History: Gunnar Asplund and an Architecture of the past. Architecture and Urban ism, April 1991. p. 38-65 Stockholm City Library Exterior http://cavin2009.com/japan/sweden/stockholm http://www.panoramio.com/photo/33316 Gothenburg Law Courts Exterior http://www.flickr.com/photos/pg/2362865621/ Woodland Cemetary Wrede, Stuart. The Architecture of Erik Gunnar Asplund. MIT Press. 1980 Stockholm Exhibition http://www.arkitekturmuseet.se/ung/utstallning/modernismen/english/default.html http://www.aggregat456.com/2010/06/impure-opticality-or-when-urban-screens.html

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Minimalism