The term minimalist seems to have originated as a political term in the beginning of the 20th century and may be related to existing French and Russian terminology. Your best bet is to consult a library copy of the Oxford English Dictionary, which is the most concise and detailed etymological resource out there.
Like “intelligentsia” and “mammoth”, “minimalist” comes from Russian. The original Minimalists were moderate members of the Russian Social Revolutionary Party. They were opposed to the Maximalist wing of the party which used extremist tactics during the 1905 revolution. Minimalist was first used to describe art in the 1960s.
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