Art Movements: Minimalism

When we click a photograph, we usually try to represent an aspect (or perspective) of the real world or reflect an experience such as an emotion or feeling. Be it landscapes or portraits, they all serves the function of representing or giving a glimpse of an outside reality. Minimalism-inspired photography makes no attempt to represent an outside reality but creates a compelling composition which pulls the viewer’s eyes to look right in the frame and respond only to what is in front of them. As Frank Stella aptly described, “What you see is what you see“.

All I want anyone to get out of my [works] and all I ever get out of them is the fact that you can see the whole idea without any confusion. What you see is what you see.”

Frank Stella, 1964
  • strips any form of meaningful, symbolic, narrative, emotional or personal content from the composition and brings it down to its simplest, most necessary elements;
  • removes all decorative, figurative, and representational elements from the composition to expose the purity and beauty of the main subject;
  • does not represent anything beyond its literal meaning or pretend to be anything other than what you see it is;
  • deliberately excludes personal expression or emotions – or at least personal expression is kept at a minimum;
  • colours (if used) are also non-referential;
  • attempts to be wholly objective and non-referential;
  • evokes immediate, absolute, and purely visual response to the photography work;
  • glorifies simplistic shapes, hard edges or essential elements of line and form, while keeping the substance and essence of the subject intact.


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