On the occasion of Dia Beacon’s simultaneous presentation of works by Imi Knoebel, Charlotte Posenenske, and Franz Erhard Walther, I was invited by Ian Wallace to participate in a two-hour event that brought together, as he puts it, a new generation of artists and scholars to reconsider the classification of “German Minimalism,” a term that has been used to describe artistic practices that emerged in West Germany in the mid-1960s.
This event reflect Wallace’ long term engagement with the topic and aspects of his dissertation written on Charlotte Posenenske at the City University, New York.
Ian writes: Reflecting conceptual engagement—and sometimes direct contact—with Minimalist art from the United States, Knoebel, Posenenske, Walther, and many of their peers employed industrial materials and processes, a reduced geometric vocabulary, the serial repetition of forms, and an emphasis on embodied relationships to sculpture. However, the work of these German artists can also be distinguished in various ways from US Minimalism, which has traditionally been understood through the abstract theoretical discourse of phenomenology. Expanding beyond simple morphological comparison, this symposium considers defining features of Knoebel, Posenenske, and Walther’s practices that depart from United States models.
I was fortunate to join a panel of art historians and practising artists who discussed an alternative historical view on German art of the 1960s and a new understanding of its relevance to artistic practices today. Speakers included Gordon Hall, Hanna B. Hölling, Colin Lang, Gregor Quack, Michael Sanchez, and Sung Tieu, with moderator Ian Wallace, 2020–21 Andrew M. Mellon Curatorial Fellow at Dia Art Foundation.