Minimalism rejects the need for social comment, self-expression, narrative, or any other allusion to history, politics, or religion. It is based on creating objects of interest and beauty. Minimalists reduced their work to the smallest number of colors, values, shapes, lines, and textures. David Burlyuk first used the term in an exhibition catalogue for John Graham paintings at the Dudensing Gallery in New York in 1929. The term was later applied to the movement in the 1960. Other names for the movement include ABC art, minimal art, reductivism, and rejective art. Minimalism was a reaction against the formal overkill and pretentiousness of Abstract Expressionism. It had roots in Pop art, Cubism, and Conceptual art and was also inspired by Russian Suprematists such as Kasimir Malevich.
An American-born movement, Minimalism stemmed mostly from the work of Frank Stella, whose Black Paintings were first exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1959, inspiring many artists to turn away from the expressive art of the past. Although it was never an organized, self-proclaimed movement, Minimalist art became dominant in sculpture and installation work, although there are multiple Minimalist painters. The 1966 exhibition in New York entitled "Primary Structures" was a key event in the history of the movement.
Minimalism questioned the nature of art and its place in society. Although some deemed Minimalist art to be unapproachable and barren, others saw the revolutionary concept of pure aestheticism and the strong affect that Minimalist theory had on post-modern art.