"...try as we may to make a silence, we cannot." - John Cage
February 6, 2010 11:47 AM   Subscribe

What visual artists are known (or would you say should be) for use of white space / negative space?

From any era, working in any medium. I'd also be interested in any exemplary works even if their creator wasn't otherwise known for reliance on white space.
posted by regicide is good for you to Media & Arts (31 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Frank Miller's Sin City comic.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:50 AM on February 6, 2010

Richard Meier, architect, in a manner of speaking.
posted by tss at 11:55 AM on February 6, 2010

Rauschenberg's White Paintings--but maybe you already know that since you are referencing Cage.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:55 AM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

well, Richard Meier really is an architect. He uses white space in a manner of speaking, is what I meant to say.
posted by tss at 11:56 AM on February 6, 2010

cy twombly
posted by crazylegs at 11:56 AM on February 6, 2010

posted by crazylegs at 11:58 AM on February 6, 2010

Heh, I hadn't thought of Miller. Good one.

Great stuff so far. I like the range of answers. Architecture hadn't occurred to me.

To refine my question a little, I'm not exclusively interested in works that are mostly blank or washed out. High contrast works would also fit the bill, and "lead room" in photography and film would probably be another useful criterion.

But all the answers so far are definitely what I had in mind, thanks!
posted by regicide is good for you at 12:10 PM on February 6, 2010

Take a look at non-Western European works like Japanese Mingei. Or Chinese Bi Disks. There's a Japanese Trade sign that uses wood grain to suggest silk, and the void to suggest the river.
posted by effluvia at 12:24 PM on February 6, 2010

Yann Travaille is a tattoo artist distinguished by his unique style or cartoony, childish black linework stretching and arching across someone's body. The traditional of style of tattoos is to cluster as many disparate elements together in a thick jumble of color (think the tattooed lady from freak shows, the backs of yakuza, or sleeves on suicide girls). Yann's work draws attention to the body it's tattooed on by showing you how much space he's willing to take up without filling it.
posted by Juliet Banana at 12:26 PM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ellsworth Kelly.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:33 PM on February 6, 2010

Check out the minimalissimo blog - it covers a lot of artwork that might fit your criteria.
posted by extrabox at 12:41 PM on February 6, 2010

James Turrell, although his work is really about space, maybe not white or negative space. But there definitely is a 'this-space not that-space' contrast to it. Unfortunately, the google image search doesn't have great examples.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 12:45 PM on February 6, 2010

Jo Baer
posted by hydrophonic at 12:45 PM on February 6, 2010

Hiroshi Sugimoto
posted by kathrineg at 12:54 PM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Egon Schiele? Especially this one. (fair warning: nudes)
posted by oinopaponton at 12:55 PM on February 6, 2010

Not as highbrow as what has been listed, but Peter Callesen?
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 1:05 PM on February 6, 2010

You mentioned Cage, so for another musical suggestion, how about Kevin Drumm's Imperial Distortion? It's mostly ambient drone sounds that change only slightly, punctuated by a minute-long blast of static at the end of the last track.
posted by hydrophonic at 1:09 PM on February 6, 2010

Maybe also Michael Heizer and Donald Judd.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 1:12 PM on February 6, 2010

The Blizzard segment from Akira Kurosawa's Dreams: 1 2 3, although it's pretty much the opposite of using a lot of lead room.
posted by hydrophonic at 1:13 PM on February 6, 2010

Kinga Czerska.
posted by dfriedman at 1:24 PM on February 6, 2010

Jan Schoonhoven.
posted by ijsbrand at 1:47 PM on February 6, 2010

Visual artist Kristján Guðmundsson (Wikipedia, some examples: 1, 2, 3).

Webcomic Death to the Extremist, made by a friend, extensively used dialogue-less panels. Examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
posted by Kattullus at 2:46 PM on February 6, 2010

Two photographers:

Kevin Saint Grey
Rober Barrocas

Both found via the minimalissimo blog linked above.
posted by regicide is good for you at 4:01 PM on February 6, 2010

Harry Callahan: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
posted by hydrophonic at 4:32 PM on February 6, 2010

A few more Callahan (nsfw): 1 2 3
posted by hydrophonic at 4:49 PM on February 6, 2010

The last short in the recent French animated film Peur(s) du noir was pretty good at this. Especially at the end!

Less serious answer: my guy is always claiming the reason he doesn't mind AC/DC but hates most cock rock is what he describes as negative space in their sound that he finds interesting--the chords are defined as much by where there isn't sound as where there is to him. I kinda hear what he's talking about and have wondered myself about other subtle mainstream examples.
posted by ifjuly at 5:26 PM on February 6, 2010

Minjung Kim

posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 5:43 PM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Architect John Pawson.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:16 PM on February 6, 2010

Rachel Whiteread, whose entire oevre is casting negative space. Very interesting stuff.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 10:19 PM on February 6, 2010

Jim Jarmusch, especially Stranger Than Paradise.
posted by scose at 7:50 PM on February 7, 2010

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