Minimalism had literally knocked sculpture off its pedestal. Artists such as Andre, Donald Judd, and Dan Flavin challenged the traditional conventions of sculpture: representation, illusionism, craftsmanship, permanence, and even the object itself. Minimalism presented a new set of formal strategies: the grid, seriality, identical modular units, geometric structure, industrial materials, and fabrication. Post-Minimalists eagerly adopted these precepts as new jumping-off points for sculptural invention: use of unorthodox materials, serial repetition, and physicality, but with allusive references and sometimes whimsy or erotica in their creations.
Termed "anti-form" by Robert Morris, "dematerialized" by Lucy Lippard, and "post-Minimalist" by Robert Pincus-Witten, the sculpture that emerged in the late 1960s and 1970s was a subversive response to Minimalism. Eva Hesse is often cited as an influential iconoclast, as well as Mel Bochner, Lucas Samaras, and Bruce Nauman. (4) Because of her age and ethnicity, Mendieta has rarely been placed in this category, but most of the movement's characteristics apply to her work as well. (5) Adjectives such as anthropomorphic, biomorphic, handmade, mixed-media, psychologically attenuated, and organic apply equally to Mendieta and Hesse. Both accepted the pared-down, abstracted aesthetic of Minimalism, and each used the style to convey her own subjective meaning.
As Lippard foretold in her introduction to the Eccentric Abstraction exhibition in 1966, "The future of sculpture may well lie in such non-sculptural styles." (6) At the same time, as noted by feminist historians like Lippard and Whitney Chadwick, (7) women artists emerged as shapers of the art world, mirroring the larger cultural phenomenon of the feminist movement.