How do I write a post about minimalism? For starters, I clean up my desk. And then I think about where and in what context I last encountered minimalism, and I immediately remember my move in March. The new home meant a little more space for a lot less stuff.
I’ve always been someone who doesn’t need to own a lot of things. After eight years, this move has once again thinned out my already manageable household. It was a restart: just a nice picture on the wall and two or three plants rather than TV, a cabinet, and all kinds of storage space. Even the wardrobe had to go, and with it some old threads.
“I bet you saw that documentary on minimalism,” some people might think. Honestly, I tried it for two minutes and it sent shivers down my spine; it seemed too meticulous and too forced. My gut feeling tells me: Minimalism is not for everyone, but cleaning out is because it just feels good. The goal should never be to own as little as possible, but to achieve a sustainable and manageable household.
Those who like to have a small glass figure on the windowsill should be allowed to do so. Perfection through emptiness can work, but is by no means the be-all-end-all. And this brings us back to the question of what minimalism actually is.
“Less” in many forms
In general, minimalism means having less of everything essential than is the norm; in extreme cases, for example, empty rooms, empty frames, empty melodies. By definition, minimalism describes a repertoire of forms in the visual arts, a style of architecture, a style of music, a form of linguistics – and even a simple lifestyle, which was also my first association with this term.
Since we are now here in the world of images and not in my living room, we are dealing with the art movement that is actually the root of all further downsizing trends. Minimalism emerged in the 1960s as an antithesis to expressionism, in which spontaneity took precedence over perfection, reason, and regimentation. These last three features then in turn brought minimalism to the fore. Minimalism is about clarity, logic, and depersonalization, represented by basic geometric structures and clear forms. And it is about opposites like beginning and end or empty and full. At the center of minimalist image design is the question: How can I make things beautiful, but at the same time as simple as possible?
Minimalism in the image world of Westend61
Our Art Department attaches great importance to giving our photographers a lot of creative freedom in their productions. Sometimes they also use this freedom to strictly limit the essentials of a motif as a stylistic device. It is precisely this tension between inventiveness and formal austerity that allows for attractive creative variations. No wonder, then, that we are repeatedly presented with photos and productions that can be clearly assigned to the minimalist style.
Our photographers seem to have found their very own contemporary expression of this style for themselves. The purist forms of these images often stand in exciting contrast to an almost exploding colorfulness. This can be, for example, a large area in a strong color – a visual bang effect, so to speak.
It is not without reason that some of our minimalist photos carry the label of our VISTA collection, which stands for particularly vivid and colorful images. Regarding body language, our photographers set no limits for their models: Powerful poses and strong self-expression are in demand. This dynamic and pulsating vitality forms an effective contrast to the simplicity and formal austerity of the background. For us, this visual variety of minimalism is just right: quite tidy, but by no means perfect, and yet full of life.