An American-born movement, Minimalism stemmed mostly from the work of Frank Stella, whose Black Paintings were first exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1959, inspiring many artists to turn away from the expressive art of the past. Although it was never an organized, self-proclaimed movement, Minimalist art became dominant in sculpture and installation work, although there are multiple Minimalist painters.
Minimalism flourished in the 1960s and 1970s with Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt and Robert Morris becoming the movement's most important innovators. We usually think of art as representing an aspect of the real world, a landscape, a person, or even a tin of soup or reflecting an experience such as an emotion or feeling. With Minimalism, no attempt is made to represent an outside reality, the artist wants the viewer to respond only to what is in front of them. The medium, from which it is made, and the form of the work is the reality.
Minimalist painter Frank Stella famously said about his paintings 'What you see is what you see'. The intention of minimalist artists is to allow the audience to view a composition more intensely because the distractions of a theme has been removed. Minimalist artists, such as Judd and Andre, also rejected the notion of the artwork as a unique creation reflecting the personal expression of a gifted individual. They saw the importance bestowed on the hand of the artist in the creation of a work of art as a distraction from the art object itself. Instead they created objects that were as impersonal and neutral as possible, with the aim that the viewer should have a more pure reaction to the art object itself.