A tiny little show popped up at the El Paso Museum of Art this past Sunday in the De wetters gallery on the second floor. Called “Untitled” and the Minimalist Aesthetic” it features 3 prints by Donald Judd and one work apiece from four artists who seem to have been influenced by Judd’s aesthetics all these many years later.
It’s a very appealing show with all of the work taken from the museum’s own collection. Connie Goldman explores tension with her small wood pieces called Hybrid set slightly askew and Margo Sawyer’s “Index for Contemplation” does just that.
The only little quibble, and it is one that I suspect Judd would appreciate, is with the commentary. It is hard to write about minimalism since practitioners like Judd seemed to have wanted nothing to do with any such label. In Sawyer’s commentary on her work, she mentions Judd warning her off allowing herself to be labelled with any “ism.” So when the introduction to the show cites unnamed critics referring to Donald Judd as the father of minimalism, one hears the gnashing of teeth from the graveyard. In addition to ignoring everyone else who was working from a similar aesthetic at the time, as well as precursors, Judd, as I mentioned, wanted nothing to do with the label. The whole point, it seems, was to force people to look at the work without extraneous reference. This, of course, makes it rather difficult to write an introduction, but there might have been a bit more background and some other artists at least mentioned. There is also what I believe is a misspelling in referring to artists as having “pared to core values”- here spelled “paired.” This becomes a bit more confusing in the Spanish translation which fathfully translates the phrase with the pairing meaning rather than the paring.
All of this may be a bit too pedantic for many and particularly for a show containing only seven pieces. The art is what is supposed to be important, not the intro and in this case it is. -david sokolec