Madeline O'Connor minimalism, spiritualism, and particularity
Positioned between abstraction and representation and between painting and sculpture, Madeline O'Connor utilized simple geometric forms to create contemplative minimalist sculptures that employ repetition, saturated hues, and carefully measured negative spaces. Although the appearance of her work aligns with simple geometric forms popularized in the 1960s by Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Frank Stella, and others, O'Connor's work differs from the founders of Minimalism in both references and fabrication. O'Connor's lifelong exposure to the coastal prairies of south Texas, particularly the bird and plant life, informs much of her work visually and in the title, and she fabricated her sculpted canvases by hand instead of employing industrial fabricators like so many earlier minimalist artists. This paper begins with a formalist exploration of O'Connor's work with references to discourses on modernism and minimalism followed by a discussion of Spiritualism as it relates to both Russian abstractionists and American modernists. The final chapter compares O'Connor's work with the contemporary artist Mona Hatoum and includes an argument for particularity in the work of both artists. Concluding remarks emphasize O'Connor's work in connection to issues of subjectivity and fabrication explored by fellow post-minimalist women artists and briefly revisits issues of minimalist discourse, spirituality, and particularity.