Understanding abstract minimalism is like learning a new language. I’m realizing that it helps to have some background or to really take some time with it. Otherwise, if you only look at the face-value; the superficial, you may just pass by. You’ll miss the message. It’s like if someone whispered something ethereal and brilliant to you and you accidentally talked over them. I can only have my perspective but I think that it’s most nearly spiritual and the experience you can have is ineffable and other-worldly.
Updated: I just realized that Varnedoe actually mentions that in Pictures of Nothing (pg.41) He talks about how the experience of Abstract Minimalism “does profit from some prior knowledge” and how it “helps to be aware of the parameters and rules of that tradition”.
A conversation is happening. What I mean is that a lot of well-known abstract art builds off of each other or even mocks or simply responds to something another artist created. I’d say that’s mostly true. I would say (and maybe he goes into this later— only in chpt one.) that the more you look at abstract art, the more you’ll understand it. Maybe one doesn’t have to have the background to understand it from an academic perspective. I would say that, based on my experience, one needs to look at it, give it the time and I think understanding comes from the commonality of the human experience; your humanity. In the same way that red and pink remind us of love and Valentine’s day, or blue reminds us of calm or maybe a particular blue can convey sadness (I’m simplifying here, assuming that the viewers have the same cultural background), we can understand a piece of art. Sure, everyone is going to have a slightly different interpretation of the art, but among those interpretations, there are commonalities.