Minimalism and Rhetoric of Power Essay

Minimalism and Rhetoric of Power Essay.

Minimalism and Rhetoric of Power Essay



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            The article in this discussion is Minimalism and Rhetoric of Power by Anne Chave. In this article, Chave discusses the rhetoric adorned in minimalism and the framework of the movement and the manner in which it relates to the social and political climate of the United States in the 1960s. She tries to understand showcase the power in minimal art by analyzing the rhetoric meaning of the patent art. Chave states the objects of art that were considered the cornerstone of the 1960s movement such as the sculptures by Carl Andre, Tony Smith, Richard Sierra, Robert Morris, Walter De Maria, and Dan Flavin. For instance, the black paintings of Frank Stella are associated with the Holocaust Nazism.  The essay analyzes the pieces of art formally, sexually, politically, and socially.

The author, Chave elaborates how context can be derived from works of arts. In the ancient times, art portrayed a way of symbolic expression of diverse attitudes and perceptions. In the 1960, various artists’ works were used metaphorically to express social, political and sexual interests. These works are what Chave formally analyzes and unveils their hidden meanings. She states that, “what concerns me about Minimalist art is what Terresa de Lauretis describes as “the relations of power involved in enunciation and reception, “relations” which sustain the hierarchies of communication; … the ideological construction of authorship and mastery; or more plainly, who speaks to whom, why, and for whom” (Chave, 1990, pg 2). By this she implies that the minimalistic art were objectively created as a way of communication and denotes the hierarchies of power. She therefore seeks to unveil who the speakers were, their message and who the message was deciphered to.

After reading this essay, my argument is that the author excelled in proving that minimalistic art is purpose oriented. One of the points that Chave drives home is that Minimalistic artists were indifferent to politics. This she achieves by proving that most minimalist sculptors were activists and they formed their work that acted to present their movement. Their creations were a way of creating a democratic form of art that was not accustomed to any background, belief, or culture. As a result, understanding the pieces of art did not need any acquaintance originating from backgrounds or cultures for it to be understood. For instance, Chave writes, “…his tittles functions to undermine such baldly positivist statements and to situate the work instead in an unstable symbolic space… his titles point to the treacherous slipperiness and the multivalence of words and signs including their private and public meanings” (Chave, 1990, pg, 6). By this, she proved that the minimalist’s works were objective and is a means of communication and addresses various concerns of activists.

Reflecting on the article, the works of various Minimalist artists showcases the meaning of “Minimalism and Rhetoric of Power.” Chave successfully pinpoints how the indifference in minimalistic arts prevails in pointing out to the social and political concerns of activists. This is the symbolic meaning that she gives to the teenagers who first kick at Donald Judd’s gleaming brass floor box. After that, they use its reflexive surface to kiss their images, meaning that the minimalist’s works were explicit reactions of both hatred and love. The meaning of the works were invaluable to the oppressed whereas the oppressors would find them intimidating. The pieces of art relates to the Sexual Revolution, the Vietnam War and the Technological revolution. The hidden meanings are rhetoric are they withhold power to influence those who understand their inner meanings and various activists used them as symbols of revolution

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