Vague recollections: Minimalist aesthetics in public memorials

Stevens, Q 2008, 'Vague recollections: Minimalist aesthetics in public memorials', in David Benyon and Ursula de Jong (ed.) History in Practice: Proceedings of the 25th International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand, Geelong, Australia, 3-6 July 2008, pp. 1-17.


Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: Conference Papers

Title Vague recollections: Minimalist aesthetics in public memorials
Author(s) Stevens, Q
Year 2008
Conference name History in Practice: The 25th International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand
Conference location Geelong, Australia
Conference dates 3-6 July 2008
Proceedings title History in Practice: Proceedings of the 25th International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand
Editor(s) David Benyon and Ursula de Jong
Publisher Society of Architectural Historians Australia & New Zealand
Place of publication Geelong, Australia
Start page 1
End page 17
Total pages 17
Abstract This paper examines the critical and public reception of Peter Eisenman's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (2004), a major recent public memorial which draws upon minimalist ideas and precedents, and two particularly important precursors, Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1982) and Richard Serra's public sculpture Tilted Arc (1981). These works were completed several decades after the Minimalist movement had begun to expand the limits of artistic representation through sculpture. Eisenman and Lin chose minimalism as a means for memorialising types of tragedies which were not subjects of public memorialisation in earlier times. These memorials appeared in an era when large-scale public art had become a commonplace feature of public space. The key reference points for this investigation are essays from the mid-1960s by Morris and Fried and later reviews by Kraus which articulated the concept of minimalist sculpture. The paper identifies various ways that minimalist concepts have challenged and transformed the design, purpose, reception and management of public memorial sites. The analysis explores how minimalist public art and public memorials have established new relations between sculpture and landscape; new positions, roles and experiences for visitors; and new ways of linking visitor perceptions to memory. The paper outlines how rather than eliminating meaning, abstract forms provide new ways of provoking responses from visitors, transmitting meanings, and addressing new subjects of remembrance. The public's responses to these designs highlight that not everyone comprehends or appreciates the messages intended by abstract forms of memorialisation.
Subjects Architecture not elsewhere classified
ISBN 9780958192545
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