Cool art

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A term that has been applied to various types of abstract art characterized by such qualities as calculation, detachment, and impersonality. Usually the art referred to is geometrical, and often it is made up of repetitive structures or units. The term was evidently first used in print by the critic Irving Sandler in 1965 (in an article in Art in America), but the term ‘Cool School’ had been used a year earlier (in an article in Artforum by Philip Leider). The art historian Barbara Rose has referred to the term as a synonym for Minimal art, which she describes as ‘an art whose blank, neutral, mechanical impersonality contrasts so violently with the romantic, biographical Abstract Expressionist style which preceded it that spectators are chilled by its apparent lack of feeling or content’. Historically the interest of the concept is that it unites two apparently opposed tendencies of the 1960s, Pop and Post-Painterly Abstraction, under a single sensibility. See also Cold art.

Subjects: Art.

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