Question: Is minimalism really an art?
Answer: Yes, it is.
Merriam-Webster defines art as “the express or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power”.
Merriam-Webster defines minimalism as “a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity”.
The intersection of these two, the art of minimalism, lies in the emotional power invoked by spareness and simplicity.
In our world today, we are drowning in a sea of busy, while being bombarded constantly with things like texts, notifications, emails…each demanding our instant attention. We are told relentlessly that we need the next BIG thing or we’re going to miss out (got Black Friday?), the latest trend or style or we’re not worthy of the in-crowd.
Process more, consume more, do more… more, more, more. Unfortunately, we, at some point, become desensitized to it all and make it our norm. The problem?
We lose our ability to feel.
Passion, beauty, life…all gone. We’re too busy walking around like zombies, buried deep within the mind-numbing world of emotional and sensory overload.
In comes the art of minimalism to rescue us. Begging us; pleading with us to break free from the bondage of sensory overload and reclaim our ability to feel. To come alive and be moved, emotionally stirred, by simplicity.
Take the picture below (Photo by LUM3N on Unsplash)
At first glance we dismiss this picture as just a pink desk with some white objects on it. But stop… stop everything you are doing right now and look at it, not in that meaningless, “it’s unimportant kind of way”, but as you would if it were a photo of a friend, or a loved one. That’s it…keep looking at it. I’m guessing that you actually felt something. A stir, an emotion, even if you could not describe it. The grey of the pen became just a little bit crisper. The white objects: a stark contrast to the pink background, yet evoking a certain sense of balance and harmony. Now you notice the spacing of the notebook, mouse and other items. Their equal spacing further enhance the theme of unity, togetherness…purpose. Each piece skillfully placed to impact your emotional senses in a powerful way. Minimalistic art.
One more photo (Photo by Federica Giusti on Unsplash)
A bunch of lights you say? Yet, I sense you learned from the last example and brush off your initial response to find the deeper meaning and purpose. Good… The lights stand out but do not overpower. They are a focal point but not THE focal point. They are part of a larger picture, just like us. The soft glow invites us to come closer, to be more intimate. This is supported by the hues of grey and reds in the back, an open invitation to a place of warmth and comfort. We are forced to slow down, less we miss this moment of tranquility and serenity. This is a call to a more personal place to safely let our guard down and be who we truly are. Can a photo of lightbulbs really do that? Yes, it can. If we let it. Another example of the impact of the art of minimalism.
So, I pose the question again: Is minimalism really art?
Answer: You know the answer. You only need to slow down, disconnect from the overload of “more”, and the answer will be affirmed with a resounding “YES!”.