The Language of Less (Then)


Charlotte Posenenske, Series E Kleiner Drehflügel (Small Revolving Vane), 1967–68. Matte gray spray paint on sheet aluminum; dimensions variable. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Mary and Earle Ludgin by exchange, 2011.12. © 1967–68 Charlotte Posenenske Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago


The Language of Less (Then and Now) is inspired by the MCA’s rich holdings of work from the 1960s and seventies that typically rejects imagery, reveals little if any evidence of the artist’s hand, and embraces industrial materials. In doing so, this work—known broadly as Minimal art—directs the viewer without distraction to the subtle underpinnings of all form: line, plane, mass, and color.

The exhibition is divided into two distinct parts, the first of which presents a fresh reinstallation of this historical material, with work by artists such as Carl Andre, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, and Richard Serra. The second showcases a new generation of artists who have assimilated the lessons of their forebears but address a new range of concerns. These five contemporary artists—Leonor Antunes, Carol Bove, Jason Dodge, Gedi Sibony, and Oscar Tuazon—offer new insights into what is valuable and enduring in the historical work but also point us toward the pressing concerns of today.

With the history of art always under constant reappraisal by contemporary artists, this exhibition reintroduces now-classic material to the public alongside work by a younger generation of artists who are captivating international attention.

This exhibition is curated by MCA James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator Michael Darling.

Installation images

A gallery view with minimalist color field paintings on the walls, and a stairway-like sculpture in the middle of the room.
Installation view, The Language of Less (Then and Now), MCA Chicago, Oct 8, 2011–Mar 25, 2012 Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago