Washington has a long history with pared-down art -- starting with the Washington Monument, one of the great works of American minimalism. Hard-edged abstraction was also popular among the city's artists throughout the 1960s, and minimalism had one of its most important early outings at the Corcoran in 1967. Here are some notable examples of minimal art on view in Washington:
NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART
Ellsworth Kelly, though not a card-carrying minimalist, made art with as little incident as any of his contemporaries. The National Gallery's sculpture garden features his "Stele II," a work in steel from 1973. A major installation of monochrome canvases, called "Color Panels for a Large Wall" and first conceived in 1978, fills one large wall of the East Building atrium.
Agnes Martin can't count as a minimalist, properly speaking -- no painter can, given the movement's commitment to free-standing objects. But paintings like her 1963 "Field #2," in Concourse Gallery 5 of the East Building, clearly have a reductive urge.
Robert Ryman is another non-minimalist painter who indulged in a minimal aesthetic. Two of his trademark white-on-white canvases are on view in the East Building's Concourse Gallery 5.
Anne Truitt is an artist from the Washington area who was an important player in minimalism's heyday. Her sculpture "Night Naiad," from 1977, is on view on the second floor.
Richard Tuttle is on the conceptual-art end of minimalism. His dyed-canvas octagon from 1967 is now hanging near the Truitt.
Robert Irwin's 1969 acrylic disc, lit so that it seems to float before the wall, is in a gallery on the second floor.
Robert Ryman has spent his whole career riffing on the ways white paint can be applied to a white surface. One of his paintings is hanging near the Irwin piece.
Lucio Fontana's 1967 work called "Spatial Concept: Expectations" is a monochrome canvas elegantly slashed with a sharp blade. It's been installed alongside the Irwin and Ryman.
Agnes Martin gets another chance to wow us at the Hirshhorn. Two of her impressively subtle canvases are installed on the third floor.
Josef Albers, who got his start at Germany's Bauhaus, is from a different generation from this country's minimalists. But some of them helped draw attention to his rigorous color studies. His "Homage to the Square: Nacre," from 1965, hangs not far from the Martins.
Ellsworth Kelly was already making rigorously minimal paintings several years before minimal art became an ism. Kelly paintings from 1958, 1959 and 1961 now hang in the third-floor escalator lobby.
Sol LeWitt is one minimalist and conceptualist whose career has never really stalled. Three of his works are on show in the Lerner Room.