The new term ‘Minimalism’ was coined for the second half of the 1960s, and this included a broader range of artistic media—including sculpture, wall reliefs, painting and drawing. Our series of Minimalism and After exhibitions, which started in 2002, begins with this extended spectrum and will be continued the following years with changing thematic emphases. We are looking at the seeds of Minimalism before the movement was really under way, and then at effects that relate to no particular time, and the later manifestations.
Who were the teachers and investigators around 1960? Where did artists make key contributions in the background, often overlooked by the art market? What encounters took place that have been forgotten today, and what historical parallels were there? What was the response in Europe? How is Minimalism addressed in contemporary international art discussions?
Our new acquisitions by artists from three generations start in time terms with two outsiders from art events, John McLaughlin (1898–1976, USA) and Hermann Glöckner (1889–1987, D). McLaughlin’s reductionist painting, which concentrated on black, white and very few colors, their formal economy and perfection in terms of paint application, and finally the pictures’ emphatic object quality and visual presence prepared the way for American Minimalism. Parallel Hermann Glöckner, who was just under eighty, continued to develop his Faltungen (Folds) in Dresden, in complete isolation from the GDR art of the day. His approach is today echoed in Katja Strunz’s (b. 1970, D) wall reliefs.
Following one of the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection’s continuing focal points, the selection of new acquisitions reflects discussions in contemporary art. Wolfgang Berkowski (b. 1960, D), Stephen Bram (b. 1961, AUS), Benoît Golléty (b. 1975, F), Esther Hiepler (b. 1966, D), and Michael Zahn (b. 1963, USA) all developed quite independent groups of works in the 1990s linking up with various aspects of Minimalism and formulating and fleshing them out further.