Aspects of Minimalism at Guild Hall: Dan Flavin's Neons and More

For Guild Hall curator Christina Strassfield, a show on minimalism was a no brainer. Currently on view in two large galleries, stark works in sand colors, geometrics, in brown felt material, in bright neon, the exhibition displays art from the collection of Bridgehampton resident Leonard Ruggio, whose passion is minimalism, a midcentury movement that challenges our notions of the types of materials can be used in art, and in fact our traditional notions of beauty. Minimalism contrasts with the extravagant collages of the previous show featuring the photography of Peter Beard, and was historically a contrast to Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, begging the question, is less more?

The Guild Hall show coincides with the current trend toward minimalism as a life choice, that is, in the parlance of the latest trends in austerity, a term for stripping away of possessions, freeing one self of objects. In a way, in art, you notice the lack of subjectivity, decoration, the absence of the human element. But says, Strassfield, of the artists shown--Gerhard Richter, Bridget Riley, Donald Judd, On Kawara, Blinky Palermo, Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, Agnes Martin--"Dan Flavin is the only artist from this exhibition that I had met. He was a very intelligent man who had many diverse interests and collected a variety of artworks: I remember he had an extensive collection of Chinese tea sets that were very dear to him. He also collected American Indian jewelry."

The show's opening was attended by many local artists: Cindy Sherman, Eric Fishl, Ralph Gibson, Chuck Close, Billy Sullivan, Gail Sheehy, Cornelia Foss, April Gornik, Mary Jane Marcasiano, Toni Ross, Robert Wilson, no one especially associated with minimalism, however respectful of the aesthetic.

What's coming up for Guild Hall? Taryn Simon will be guest curator, looking at what others have in their houses, a big show of Lynda Benglis, and Elaine DeKooning's portraits of JFK.

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.