Minimal Art and Body Politics in New York City, 1961-1975

This dissertation assesses the urban history of Minimal Art and the social history of its phenomenology. It studies the significance of the city and its modular architectures as a source of form, material, and logic in artists’ work and writing in 1960s and 70s New York. In the early reception of this work, much critical rhetoric mirrored that of urban renewal. By the mid-1960s, Minimal Art’s urban references were occluded by the phenomenological discourse of the body, sensation, and perception. However, for many urban critics, theorists, and historians, as well as artists working in New York, the problem of the city was a problem of the body. The core phenomenological concerns of Minimal Art did not represent a turning away from the urban; rather Minimal Art’s phenomenology was a response to the crisis of the modern American city.