“Abstract, Directly Experienced, Highly Simplified, and Self-Contained”: Discourses of Simplification, Disorientation, and Process in the Arts

  • Riikka StewenEmail author
Part of the Mathematics, Culture, and the Arts book series (MACUAR)


In 1969, Marcel Broodthaers painted one of his very few paintings, Il n’y a pas de Structures Primaires. A Belgian poet, filmmaker, and inventor of new art forms, he is credited as being the first to produce what is now known as institutional critique. The title Il n’y a pas de Structures Primaires refers directly to the groundbreaking exhibition Primary Structures that took place in 1966 at the Jewish Museum in New York, an exhibition that brought contemporary minimalist works out of the closed world of advanced contemporary art and into the public domain [1, pp. 53–64]. In the exhibition catalogue the curator Kynaston McShine described the new minimalist works as “abstract, directly experienced, highly simplified, and self-contained,” pointing out that the structures shown were conceived as “objects” (his quotation marks) and that they rejected all forms of anthropomorphism [1, p. 59].


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of the Arts HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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