Minimalism first appeared in NY in the early ’60s as a reaction to abstract expressionism. This new wave of younger artists favored the cool over the dramatic and overly expressive tendencies of their predecessors. These painters and sculptors avoided overt symbolism and emotional content but instead called attention to the materiality of their work.
Minimalists sought to break down traditional notions of sculpture and to erase distinctions between painting and sculpture. In particular, they rejected the formalist dogma espoused by the critic Clement Greenberg that placed limitations on the art of painting and privileged artists who seemed to paint under his direction. The Minimalists' more democratic point of view was set out in writings as well as exhibitions by their leaders Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, and Robert Morris.
What I think about is creating a presence that radiates out into the viewer's space, and that mirrors the viewer, so to speak. I make configurations that to my mind have some metaphorical relationship to the body, or to some physical, psychological, or cosmological condition. Color is the engine that animates everything.
I work the paintings horizontally, pouring the paint on and scraping it off with a cement trowel, building the surface slowly with multiple thin films of translucent color. This process allows me to inflect the color with undertones and overtones.
My hope for the painting is that it acts as a catalyst to dislodge the viewer’s imagination from its day-to-day pattern and that it creates a new place in the world for the viewer's consciousness to wonder, reflect, or just to be still. That's the regenerative power of painting.
Excerpts from Steven Alexander in conversation with Vered Lieb
Louise P. Sloane
“Louise P. Sloane is a painter whose distinctive production focuses primarily on color and light, materiality and texture. This became the matrix for the geometric configurations or symbols that she embedded into her paintings early on followed eventually by textual excerpts that ousted the signs. Deeply invested in modernist aesthetics, as most artists of her generation were, she continues to embrace formalism, albeit an expanded, looser concept of it. While she prefers that her imagery is seen as pattern and texture, Sloane is also very aware that traces of narrative are inevitably present.”
“As part of her attraction to modernism, and in particular to minimalism, to Op art, geometric abstraction, Color Field painting and beyond—Donald Judd, Brice Marden, and Agnes Martin have been her touchstones—she has almost always based her composition on the grid and its variations. Her formats have been either square or rectangular and are oriented both vertically and horizontally. Often, the support is just off the square, enough to give the work a sense of tension and stretch. Her supports have also shifted between canvas, wood, Masonite, steel—whatever she finds to be best at the moment.”
From “In The Studio” an essay by Lilly Wei
My work can be described as geometric minimalism composed of repetitive geometric configurations in acrylic with resin on birch panels, cubes, and rhombuses. I work with bold and vibrant candy-like colors that pulse and vibrate bringing certain shades to the forefront and others to the background. I create a grid to formulate the geometric compositions, which are ultimately inspired by musical rhythm and beats. The repetitive forms are meant to project a natural sense of optimism and joy informed by the techno beats and self-absorption of club life of eras past. My work is finished with resin, which provides a glass-like surface in which the viewer can reflect and participate in the synthesis and positive impact of color.
My collection of geometric paintings and sculptures are greatly inspired by the American color field artists of the 1950s and 60s whom I consider my heroes and whose message of simplicity I wish to immortalize. These include Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Gene Davis, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and Frank Stella as well as hard-edged Canadian artists Jack Bush and Guido Molinari and British artist, Bridget Riley.
Spanierman Modern is very pleased to present the work of three artists all of whom work within the constraints of geometric minimalism: Steven Alexander, Louise P. Sloane, and Heidi Spector. While all of them share an interest in color, form, texture, and shape, they employ very different approaches to accomplish their goals.