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Minimalism:Origins Paperback – September 22, 2000

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Paperback, September 22, 2000
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; 2nd edition (September 22, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253213886
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253213884
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #875,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


... a landmark work, the first attempt to write a pre-history of minimalism that embraces all the arts. Its importance cannot be overestimated." --K. Robert Schwarz, Institute for Studies in American Music "All told, this book is mandatory reading for anyone who wishes to understand the history and nature of minimalism." --i/e NINE

From the Back Cover

""The death of Minimalism is announced regularly, which may be the surest testimonial to its staying power"". This is the opening sentence of Edward Strickland's study, the first to examine in detail Minimalist tendencies in the plastic arts and music. The term Minimalism appeared in the mid-1960s, primarily with reference to the stripped-down sculpture of artists like Robert Morris and Donald Judd, both of whom detested the word. In the late seventies it gained widespread currency when applied to the repetitive music popularized by Steve Reich and Philip Glass. In the first part of the book, ""Paint"", Strickland shows how Minimalism offered a rethinking of the main schools of abstract art to mid-century. Within Abstract Expressionism Barnett Newman opposed the stylistic complexity of confessional action painting with non-gestural, color-field painting. Ad Reinhardt and Ellsworth Kelly reconceived the rhythmic construction of earlier Geometrical Abstraction in ""invisible"" and brilliant monochromes respectively; and Robert Rauschenberg created Dadaist anti-art in pure white panels. Next, Strickland surveys Minimal music from La Monte Young's long-tone composions of the fifties to his drone works of the Theatre of Eternal Music. He examines the effect of foreign and nonclassical American musics on Terry Riley's motoric repetition developed from his tape experimentation, Steve Reich's formulation of phasing technique; and Philip Glass's unison modules. The third part of the book treats the development of Minimal sculpture and its critical reception. Strickland also discusses analogous Minimalist tendencies in dance, film, and literature as well as the incorporation of once-shocking Minimalistvocabulary into mass culture from fashion to advertising. Investigating the origins of Minimalism in postwar American culture, Strickland redefines it as a movement the developed radically reductive stylistic innovations in numerous media over the third quarter of the twentieth century.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Martin Phillips on July 26, 2005
In Strickland's previous book, American Composers, he demonstrated a broad knowledge of various musics (he had written extensively, for example, on Glenn Gould and John Coltrane)in lively conversations with leading composers. His book on Minimalism is primarily first-rate cultural history, with more technical and formal analysis, curiously, in the sections of art than in the central section on music. His style is fluid and often witty, occasionally turgid only in some of the more technical passages, perhaps inevitably.

One thing missing in the book is reproductions of the art and music (there is one at the head of each section), possibly because Strickland seems to be trying to create a Minimalist work of art himself here--from the bare buff cover (in the hardback; the revised paperback edition includes the ISBN code, laudatory reviews and a synopsis on the back cover) to the naming of chapters by letters and sections by a single word ("Paint, Sound," "Space" and "End"). There is nothing minimal about the documentation, however, for the book relies on an abundance of primary sources.

The section on painting is probably the most controversial. Strickland has lengthy chapters on Barnett Newman, Ellsworth Kelly, Ad Reinhardt et al. in redefining Minimalism as a movement developing WITHIN Abstract Expressionism. Many of the 60s painters normally identified as FOUNDING the movement he treats as academizing the movement. His viewpoint is equally debatable and thought-provoking, defended on empirical rather than conceptual grounds.

The section on Minimalist music is the liveliest as Strickland traces in remarkable detail its development from LaMonte Young through Terry Riley to Steve Reich to Philip Glass.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael L. Crippen on December 8, 2007
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Mr.Stricklands' essays are very insightful with regard to the rise of minimalist music. I was intrigued enough about Terry Riley after reading about him that I went to his website and purchased "In C". I am a fan of Reich, Glass, Young, and Adams, but had somehow let Mr. Riley slip through the cracks. The 25th Anniversary reissue of "In C" is well worth the effort. It was very refreshing to read about these people, and Mr.Strickland shed some new light on a sometimes confusing era. The same cannot be said for his handling of the minimalist painters. His essays were often repetitive, and he seemed to be struggling to find metaphor behind every zip and brush-stroke. I am not a fan of minimalist sculpture, and so recuse myself from entering into a discussion about the third, and last, section of his book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jeremiah Johnson on March 3, 2008
Very unusual volume: stark cover; Table of Contents consisting of "Paint," "Sound," "Space" and "End" with chapters named A-Z; no Preface--though quite extensive Bibliography. Symmetrical structure--about 135 pp. each on music and art, with the central "Sound" flanked by shorter sections on painting and sculpture, flanked in turn by an engagingly lucid intro and suggestive conclusion: the resonant last words of the book are "no one, by definition, knows."

"Paint" is organized by artist while "Sound" is mainly chronological, since Strickland argues for musical lineage from Young to Riley to Reich to Glass, while his heterodox view of Minimalist painters, most Abstract Expressionists in any other book, presents Newman, Reinhardt et al. as working independently and at philosophical odds with one another. Strickland's sympathy is clearly with Reinhardt's anti-manifestos and against Newman's high-flown theorizing, though he praises his art.

In fact the author seems to have an ingrained suspicion of theorizing in general. An excellent cultural historian, he is no philosopher, unless maybe a Sceptic confronting the conventional wisdom of art critics. As a music prof, he gets A+ for chutzpah with his "Emperor's New Clothes" approach to mainstream art critics and the commerce of the art world, which he describes on p. 2 as a "futures market." By the time he gets to the sculpture, Strickland's scepticism extends to the artists themselves. That section leads to a conclusion verging on a retraction in its ambivalent review of the Minimalist enterprise.

His views and often droll style are refreshing. His formal dissections of the painting are more detailed than those of the music--establishing his bona fides?
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By scarecrow VINE VOICE on February 8, 2005
Strickland has situated Minimal Music within a vigorous and complex context here finding useful parallels with the minimalist canons and credos in the visual arts, and the bridges found there I think are many times tenuous and self-congradulatory for it is not a proven affinity, as Badiou might have found in the consistent modality within artistic movements.Within the visual arts that considers itself "minimal" began their gestures toward the search for a "purity",a "spirit" an "unadulterated" concept in the form of reducible shapes and geometries many years prior as with Barnett Newman(working simultaneously within the mileau of the maximal gestures of Jackson Pollock)and Ellsworth Kelly.So there has been a longer shall we say "gestation" period for it in the gaze,not the "ear".Although LaMonte Youngs long-sustained lines from his "Brass Octet" dates from the early Sixties, as other Fluxus expressions of the "minimal" event but that is more Dada in effect. The visual arts scene however was an early enthusiastic supporter to this repetitive music,more so than academia or the established concert venues,until it became popular.
So the "minimal" in music slowly made pathways into establishment venues,opera,and performance art,and it was well-suited with the post-modern canons of the apolitical passivity(only Fredric Rzewski bridged this gap to the political subject) and today it is commonplace,the fashionable circuits mixed with the strains of expression of the popular avant-garde, obsessed with the market and popular culture, the buzz and being loved.
Interestingly the structure of this book is divided for this emphasis into Paint, Sound, Space, and Strickland keeps this dialogue intact.
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