Minimalism was an art movement that rose to prominence in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, probably because, if there are two decades that absolutely screamed excess, it would be the 1960’s and ‘70’s. If the recent fiftieth anniversary of Woodstock should remind us of everything it’s how weird it was that Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Sha Na Na all performed on the same stage. Not at the same time, and, yeah, okay, maybe it wasn’t that weird, but still if that’s not excess I don’t know what is.
Anyway it’s a principle in art as well as physics that every movement has an equal and opposite movement. Well, maybe not really opposite, and not necessarily even equal—a counter-movement may always be as popular as the movement that inspired it. Such is the case with Maximalism, although it can be hard to define. In art how much is too much? A friend of mine says that certain films, like 1974’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, “make excess into a virtue”, which is a phrase I love, but it’s hard to define, and kind of like that famous definition of pornography: you only really know it when you see it.
Maybe that’s why Maximalism is a term that mainly gets applied to things like David Foster Wallace’s sprawling novel Infinite Jest, or Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music that he performs non-stop over twenty-four hours, which has gotta take a toll not just on him but the audience too.
And then there’s this that I found stuck to a wall of an industrial building.
From a distance it looked so small, but the colors got my attention, and the closer I got the more the depth of the design made it look bigger and bigger and bigger. Within its own small space it really stretched to excess.