Douglas Melini, Endlessly, 2008
Acrylic on canvas and wood, 23.5 x 19.5 inches
Reductive art is characterized by the use of plainspoken materials, monochromatic color, geometry, pattern, repetition, seriality, precise craftsmanship, and intellectual rigor. In an interview with P.S.1 Curatorial Advisor Phong Bui, MINUS SPACE founders Matthew Deleget and Rossana Martinez talk about artists as historians and how the Internet has enabled the diffusion of Reductive art.
Phong Bui: MINUS SPACE online is very elaborate, yet accessible. I found the in-progress chronology very useful. Could you tell us why you chose to begin with Goethe’s “Theory of Color”, published in 1810?
MINUS SPACE: Although it is a permanent work in progress, the chronology is the most comprehensive history available anywhere concerning the development of Reductive Abstraction on the international level. Although MINUS SPACE was started locally, the Internet allowed us to take our project worldwide. For the past five years, we have worked to account for every artist, exhibition, event, publication related to our heritage as artists. Whether it’s Goethe’s non-scientific “Theory of Color,” the founding of the Bauhaus school, or the exile of artists from Europe during World War II, they have all had a significant impact on our practice today. We want the chronology to represent our collective history as a kind of knowledge base. We add to it every day.
PB: How do you select MINUS SPACE members?
MS: In the beginning, we were interested in taking a census about Reductive art and artists — who was out there, where they were working, what they were thinking about and making. More or less, we invited everyone to participate. However, over the past two years, we’ve shifted our original aim and are now interested in working with artists as collaborators. Artists affiliated with our project are making their own innovative work but they’re also working to advance Reductive art by running project spaces, curating exhibitions, writing reviews, or blogging. They are generally bringing ideas, energy, and resources to impact the trajectory of Reductive Abstraction.
PB: Do you feel that Reductive art still has relevance and legitimacy today?
MS: Without question. Although this kind of art-making is now over one hundred years old, it is very young in art historical terms. Around the globe, it has been assimilated, deconstructed, redeveloped, and redefined innumerable times over the past century with various artistic and non-artistic movements. Reductive art, however, is happening right now. It is holistic in its approach. Artists from every generation, working in every discipline in every corner of the globe, are sharing ideas and advancing the dialogue in ways that were previously inconceivable. We are only now at the very inception of Reductive art.