Barbara Rose

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Barbara Rose (born 1938) is an American art historian and art critic. She was educated at Smith College, Barnard College and Columbia University. She was married to artist Frank Stella between 1961 and 1969. In 1965 she published ABC Art in which she described the characteristics of minimal art.

ABC Art[edit]

In her essay, ABC Art, Rose considers the diverse roots of minimalism in the work of Kasimir Malevich and Marcel Duchamp as well as the choreography of Merce Cunningham, the art criticism of Greenberg, the philosophy of Wittgenstein and the novels of Robbe-Grillet. In examining the historical roots of minimal art in 1960s America, Rose draws a distinction between Malevich's "search for the transcendental, universal, absolute" and Duchamp's "blanket denial of the existence of absolute values."

Rose grouped some 1960s artists as closer to Malevich, some as closer to Duchamp, and some as between the two. Closer to Malevich are Walter Darby Bannard, Larry Zox, Robert Huot, Lyman Kipp, Richard Tuttle, Jan Evans, Ronald Bladen, Anne Truitt. Closer to Duchamp are Richard Artschwager and Andy Warhol. Between Malevich and Duchamp she places Robert Morris, Donald Judd, Carl Andre, and Dan Flavin. Her conclusion is that minimal art is both transcendental and negative:

"The art I have been talking about is obviously a negative art of denial and renunciation. Such protracted asceticism is normally the activity of contemplatives or mystics...Like the mystic, in their work these artists deny the ego and the individual personality, seeking to evoke, it would seem, the semihypnotic state of blank unconsciousness."

She also contrasts minimal art with Pop Art:

"...if Pop Art is the reflection of our environment, perhaps the art I have been describing is its antidote, even if it is a hard one to swallow."

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