20 Famous Minimalist Art Example & Minimalism Art Guide

Minimalism art is becoming more and more popular in this age of creative art. The minimalist approach simplifies art into a few essential details or design elements. Minimalist artwork is one in which the artist seeks to reduce art to the very essence of each form and eliminates anything unnecessary. It was an important aspect of modernism and has developed its own niche in today’s contemporary art world. If you are interested in learning more about minimalist art, here we have a list of 20 famous minimalist art example & minimalism art guide that you would like to know.

Minimalist art has been appearing in galleries, museums, and exhibitions for the past few decades. The concept and style of minimalism have go-ahead with the passing of time. Even though there are some simple rules around this modern artistic movement, sometimes it’s not easy to separate ‘what-is-minimalism’ from ‘what-isn’t’-minimalism. This article will try to explain the most important aspects of minimalist art with 20 famous minimalist art examples.

What is Minimalism?

Usually defined as a design style with clean lines, minimal colors, and basic shapes, minimalist art emphasizes simplicity. Unlike most abstract art, minimal art does not possess a deeper meaning or deeper understanding. Artists of this art style are more concerned with aesthetics, structure, and texture than they are with their individuality or self-expression. A variety of industrial materials, including sheet metal, fiberglass, and plywood, are often used by artists for their creations. Eva Hesse, Frank Stella, Agnes Martin, Anne Truitt, Dan Flavin, and Donald Judd are some of the best-known minimalists in modern art history.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, minimalist art was a popular form of art. Particularly among younger artists, the art world experienced a major transition during this period, with their art rejecting and moving away from abstract expressionism.

The art movement at that time was truly ground-breaking because the focus was on highlighting the true nature of the medium and material in the work. Minimalism extends the concept of abstract art by taking away all essential elements from an art object. Conceptual art has a lot in common because it was extremely radical in the 1960s in the way it challenged preexisting structures of making, seeing, and understanding art.

Artists who work with minimalist materials and focus mainly on the surface have been closely linked with ideas about truth and honesty. They never pretended to represent anything but what they saw. The movement represents a school of abstraction that lacks personal expression or at least minimizes it. A geometrical tangent meets a form that’s intentionally minimalist.

The Rise of Minimalism

Around the late 1950s, attitudes toward painting and sculpture changed drastically, focusing more on emotion and physicality, which characterized much of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Younger artists began using sleek, simple, and reductionist techniques instead of the active and spontaneity of abstract expressionists, instead of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kline’s gestural, loose works. This art movement was groundbreaking because it removed all forms of individuality and self-expression. Minimalist art removed all decorative, figurative, and symbolic elements in a purely abstract form.

Following Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s, Minimalism came into prominence during the early 1960s. They felt abstract expressionist art was pretentious, unnecessarily personal, and unrefined in subject and context, which had no place in a minimal movement. They also felt that this art was pretentious, unnecessarily personal, but unsubstantial in subject and context. Consequently, they turned to create works that aspired to be fully objective, inexpressible, and undeferential.

Frank Stella (formerly an abstract expressionist) developed his Black Paintings to contrast emotional canvasses that abstract expressionism encouraged. His Black Paintings are still among his most famous works of painting. Stella was one of the first artists to embrace minimalist art, and his work was immediately acclaimed for this series. The Museum of Modern Art in New York displayed four of his ‘Black Paintings’ when he was only 23 years old. Two dozen large-scale canvases made up this series, each containing strips or bands of black house paint applied to bare canvas.

A Brief History of Minimalism

Abstract Expressionist movements in the previous decade led to minimalism in the late 1950s and early 1960s. To understand the design style, should note the following facts:


Artists began revisiting older models and incorporating elements from the Bauhaus and De Stijl movements around the turn of the twentieth century, preventing them from adhering to Abstract Expressionism’s symbolic, dramatic aesthetic.


Marcel Duchamp, one of the pioneers of conceptual art, was an inspiration for the artists. Known for his contemporary ready-made’s, he elevated everyday objects to a fine art by arranging them in striking ways. Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square (1915) is another example of the minimalist scene’s influences. Though technically an example of Russian constructivism and geometric abstraction, it contained many key elements of the art form. This monochrome picture looks like an entirely black square atop a white square. While its black-and-white color scheme carries an implicit message, it was entirely simple in its aesthetics.

New Additions to The Style

Geometric shapes and simple backgrounds would eventually characterize the minimalist movement. This more simplistic art form was born from Frank Stella’s Black Paintings at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1959, which acted as a stark contrast to the energetic gesturalism that dominated the 1960s.

Entering the mainstream:

Robert Morris, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Sol LeWitt, and Tony Smith made simple, minimalist structures for the Jewish Museum in 1966, further advancing the success of the minimalist movement. In the end, minimalism would give rise to postmodern art movements.

Characteristics of Minimalist Art

There are a few key characteristics of minimalist art, including:


The simplicity of minimalist art’s structure and appearance is a defining characteristic. Forms, lines, and color combinations typically feature geometric shapes in this style. There are few or no visible brush strokes in minimalist paintings, and the colors are usually vivid. It tends to be more “pure” and simpler than other arts.


The work of art is non-referential; this is a defining characteristic of minimalist art. There is no metaphorical or symbolic significance to the form or colors used in the artwork. t exists simply as it appears and understands, with no additional meaning or emotions behind it.


In minimalism, the art becomes less prominent, and the space surrounding it comes into sharper focus. Minimalist art aims to evoke a visual response that gives the work context by increasing the viewer’s awareness of space and form.


Most minimalist art forms feature repeated patterns, colors, or shapes. Some prominent artists have used repetition in their works, including Philippe Baudelocque, Wassily Kandinsky,  Keith Haring, and Lefty Out There.

20 Famous Minimalist Art Example

1. Black Paintings by Frank Stella, 1959

stella's minimalist art
Credit: Frank Stella

Stella’s defining works included various forms of black lines, the composition of which depended more upon the canvas than its emotional content.

2. White Flower by Agnes Martin, 1960

white flower minimalist art
Credit: Agnes Martin

Many consider her an early minimalist pioneer, even though she considered herself a geometric abstractionist. A non-hierarchical design composed of white lines forming rectangles, accented with white dashes, set on a cool, gray background.

3. Cigarette by Tony Smith, 1961

minimalist art tittles cigarette
Credit: Tony Smith

Smith’s Cigarette environmental sculpture is a 15-foot tall, hollow structure made from twisted, flat steel planes. There are a total of three similar pieces in the series.

4. Wall-Floor Slab by Robert Morris, 1964

minimalist art example
Credit: Robert Morris

Sculptor Morris was known for using geometric shapes and simple forms to create his work. The Wall-Floor Slab was among his earliest works, a rectangle of painted plywood positioned on the floor and leaning against a wall.

5. Equivalent VIII by Carl Andre, 1966

Carl's minimalist art
Credit: Carl Andre

Carl Andre created minimalist sculptures instead of carving or sculpting them by arranging raw materials. For example, the piece Equivalent VIII is carved from 120 firebricks and arranged in six-by-ten rectangles.

6. Untitled by Donald Judd, 1972

examples of minimalist art
Credit: Donald Judd

Sculptor and theorist Donald Judd wrote Specific Objects (1965), which argues and explains the differences between minimalism and older types of art. In Untitled (1972), he made a three-dimensional square box of copper and aluminum that tried to eliminate illusion.

7. White Curve by Ellsworth Kelly, 1974

minimalist artwork
Credit: Ellsworth Kelly

Kelly’s works are mainly based on observations of nature. White Curve is a sculpture made of aluminum and painted white, inspired by the forms he finds near his home.

8. Wall Drawing 439 by Sol LeWitt, 1985

minimalist art wall drawing 439
Credit: Sol LeWitt

Often considered the father of minimalism and conceptual art, Lewitt established a solid link between the two. By using color to convey a sense of depth on a flat plane, Lewitt’s Wall Drawing 439 enhances the viewer’s sense of three-dimensionality.

9. Two Open Modular Cubes/Half-Off by Sol LeWitt, 1972

famous minimalist art
Credit: Sol LeWitt

Simple geometric forms or forms repeated: “Modular” is a term that is used in the Tate Glossary to describe the form of minimalism. Although there are some minimalist painters as well, such as Agnes Martin and Frank Stella, it is usually three-dimensional in nature, usually in the form of sculpture or installation.

10. Hyena Stomp by Frank Stella, 1962

masterpiece of Frank Stella
Credit: Frank Stella

Minimalist art directly refers to itself, ignoring anything outside of the physical presence. There is no intent to suggest something else with the materials used, and the use of color is also not meant to suggest a mood; for example, a dark color does not mean the artist is attempting to suggest somberness.

11. 144 Magnesium Square by Carl Andre, 1969

carl's art
Credit: Carl Andre

The materials used for Carl Andre’s sculptures are frequently manufactured or purchased at a store. A hardware store sold Dan Flavin fluorescent bulbs which he used to do his works. A skilled crew of workers builds Judd’s sculptures according to his instructions

12. Last Ladder by Carl Andre, 1959

minimalist art exhibition
Credit: Carl Andre

The artist who is aware of his surroundings: Carl Andre once said, “I don’t consider myself a studio artist; I’m a location artist.” Minimalist art incorporates its surroundings directly into its design. The sculpture serves to emphasize and reveal the gallery’s architecture. It often hangs on walls, in corner spaces, or directly onto the floor, emphasizing the viewer’s awareness of the space around him.

13. Die Fahne Hoch by Frank Stella

minimalist art example
Credit: Frank Stella

By breaking down his compositions into geometric geometry, Stella attempted to develop an image from his paintings. Among the many Abstract Expressionists and Minimalists, he practiced the two styles simultaneously. He aimed to create paintings in which the power of pictorial composition came from materiality things rather than their symbolic or representational forms. “Die Fahne Hoch” refers to the Nazi Party’s standard walking tune, but it seems pointless other than its title.

14. Yellow Piece by Ellsworth Kelly

Yellow minimalist art

Kelly recontextualized the canvas by molding its opposite ends and resulting in a minimalist design: Yellow Piece. It was entirely transformed into an artwork.

15. Knot (Pink) by Brent Hallard

colorful art
Credit: Brent Hallard

In Hallard’s work, monochromatic colors are used to explore geometric minimalism. His techniques include the use of markers and watercolors.

16. Rainbow Pickett by Judy Chicago

example of famous minimalist art
Credit: Judy Chicago

In 1966, she exhibited this piece at the Rolf Nelson Gallery in Los Angeles for her first solo exhibition. The Rainbow Pickett sculpture is composed of six trapezoids of various lengths and colors. Clement Greenberg, a pundit for the Jewish Museum, stated that this work was probably the best in the space when it was exhibited as ‘Primary Structures.’

17. Apricot Ripple by Gene Davis, 1968

famous minimalist art example
Credit: Gene Davis

18. Untitled by Agnes Martin, 1977

famous minimalist art example
Credit: Agnes Martin

19. Untitled by Robert Morris, 1965

example of minimalist art
Credit: Robert Morris

20. Untitled by Donald Judd, 1990

examples of minimalist art
Credit: Donald Judd

Final Words

Minimalist art is a post-modern movement that has inspired many contemporary artists and designers. As such, it’s impossible to provide a strict definition of minimalist art, as it must be interpreted through the individual artist. However, many critics and proponents of the style agree on a few defining qualities -most notably, minimalist art strips away extraneous detail and focuses purely on shape, color, and form.

1 thought on “20 Famous Minimalist Art Example & Minimalism Art Guide”

  1. Thank you Tom for such an interesting and informative article! Great history brief and visual examples of minimalist art!


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