I was pleasantly surprised by the thoughtful and in-depth comments left on a post I published last week (Gothic Minimalism: An Oxymoron?). I asked if Gothicism and Minimalism, two seemingly incompatible aesthetics, could be reconciled—and the answer seemed to be an enthusiastic yes!
Some of you gave suggestions of artists who you thought embodied a minimalist Gothic aesthetic. I thought I’d look into your recommendations and highlight them here:
Described in palliationandwar’s comment: “For the uninitiated, Amenra are a sludge metal band (for the even more uninitiated that means any riff you hear emerging after 5m of intro vaguarities will be the only riff you’ll hear for the further 10m of the track). They’ve got a pervasive melancholy (the death of the vocalists father being a significant event in the direction of the music) but are certainly not goth, it’s much more jeans and t-shirt than hair dye, and more sincerity than fantasy.”
Caspar David Friedrich, The Monk by the Sea
Palliationandwar also suggests looking at German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich’s The Monk by the Sea. In his paintings, Friedrich often evokes the feeling of the sublime–an essential element of Gothic Romanticism which is described as “a tragic joy”, sometimes bordering on terror, experienced when one is faced with that which is so immense or complex that it cannot be fully comprehended. While Friedrich often conjured the sublime by painting ruins of colossal Gothic cathedrals or cemeteries, in his Monk by the Sea, he creates the sublime with vast nothingness. Our insignificance (even that of a monk!) is highlighted by the enormity of the wild, timeless, non-human world. Palliationandwar points out that this particular painting has been a seminal influence on the minimalist aesthetic.
Commenter Federica suggested that the designs of Gareth Pugh are a perfect example of how she conceptualizes “new goth, modern and minimalistic.” This new, minimalist Goth does not display its “Gothicism” in the details of the dress, necessarily, but rather more in concepts being presented. I interpret her understanding of “Gothic Minimalism” as being more covertly Goth, a reference to Gothicism through subtle symbols and atmosphere. However, upon looking at images of Gareth Pugh’s collection, there is plenty of flamboyance to be found too! Federica also mentioned Ann Demeulemeester as a designer who embodied a Minimalist Goth aesthetic, to an extent.
More suggestions? Let me know below and I’ll add them to this post.
I’ve enjoyed toying with the concept of “Gothic Minimalism”, and it has brought up questions that I’d like to explore more in depth: How much can we strip away and still have something that is inherently and recognizably Gothic? What is the essential, defining core of the Gothic? I think pinning this down is a harder task than it initially appears, I hope to write more on this subject in future posts.