Donald Judd/ Donald Clarence Judd

United States 1928 - 1994

Installation, Sculpture, Minimal Art

www.juddfoundation.org

Donald Judd
Donald Clarence Judd
Male
United States
1928
December 13, 2014

The work of Donald Judd, an American post-war artist, is a synonym for Minimalist art. It’s a term to which the artist strongly objected due to its generality, and yet he was remembered as one of the most important minimalists in the history of art. Without making grand philosophical statements, he was approached his work with the intention of creating pieces that assumed a direct material and physical presence. Managing to eschew the classical ideals of representational sculpture, Judd succeeded in creating a rigorous visual vocabulary that sought clear and definite objects as its primary mode of articulation.

Donald Judd press
Donald Judd – Untitled, 1963 – image courtesy of David Zwirner

1928–1994, a Short Story of the American Minimal Art

Born in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, Judd spent most of his childhood on his grandparents’ farm before moving to New Jersey with his parents. After serving in the United States Army in Korea, he studied at the College of William and Mary, the Art Students League in New York, where he earned his B.S. in Philosophy in 1953. He received his master’s degree in Art History from Columbia University. Between 1959 and 1965, he supported himself by regularly writing reviews of contemporary exhibitions for magazines such as Arts, Arts Magazine, and Art International, but actually continued to write throughout his life on a broad range of subjects. In 1964, Judd wrote Specific Objects, an essay (truly manifesto-like), through which he called for the rejection of the residual, European value of illusionism and advocating an art based upon tangible materials. Aligning himself with other artists such as Dan Flavin, Jasper Johns, and John Chamberlain, Judd began to openly emphasize the use of materials considered as non-traditional at the time, like steel, neon lighting, aluminum, and found objects. In his reviews and essays, he discussed in detail the work of more than 500 artists showing in New York in the early and mid-1960s, providing a critical account of this significant era of art in America. Frequently analyzing the work of Kazimir Malevich, Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, Barnett Newman, Claes Oldenburg and many others, Judd addressed the social and political ramifications of art production.

After a (relatively) short practice in painting, Judd shifted to the medium of the woodcut in the late 40’s. The linear qualities of the newly chosen medium steered his attention away from figuration, and in the direction of abstraction. He had completely abandoned the two-dimensional picture plane by the early 60’s and instead began focusing on three-dimensional forms, with materiality as the key part. As a direct result of the artist’s desire to create objects that were standing on their own (and as part of the expanded field of image making, emphasizing nothing other than their physical presence), Judd’s work is often called literalist. Abandoning the key points of traditional sculpture (and its placement upon a plinth), the artist’s creations stand on the floor, forcing the viewers to confront them from the point of their own material existence. Highly interested in spaces, materials, forms, and colors, he would frequently use the industrialized and highly finished materials, such as steel, iron, Plexiglas and plastic. In order to separate his own artworks from those made by the artists working under premises of the Abstract Expressionism, Judd used methods and techniques associated with the Bauhaus School, giving his pieces an impersonal almost factory aesthetics. Another key trait of his was the frequent presentation of his works in a serialized manner, adopting the strategy that employed the reality of the post-war period and the fast growing consumerism. Due to the creation of the pieces using fabricated parts, Judd’s work was seen as an effort toward the democratization of art, where the pieces would be available to a broader spectrum of people.

In his art, Judd used resources and materials considered as non-traditional at the time

Donald Judd
Donald Judd – Untitled, 1966-1977 – image courtesy of David Zwirner

Related Artists and Influences

A wide array of people and movements influenced the work of Donald Judd. From his friend Dan Flavin, to Jackson Pollock, Barnet Newman, Piet Mondrian, Frank Stella, John Chamberlain, Michael Fried, Leo Castelli, Mark Rothko and Marcel Duchamp, but also the Abstract Expressionism, Dada, Modernism, and Neo-Plasticism, all of which have left a mark on Judd’s pieces. Especially Pollock and Newman – Pollock with the use of dissimilar elements within the context of his generality (for example the Autumn Rhythm, 1950), and Newman’s formal compression (that can be seen in Onement, 1948), that had set the stage for Judd’s Wholeness. Judd himself was an influence to many others, including Joel Shapiro, Anish Kapoor, Julian Opie, Richard Tuttle, but the movements of Minimalism, post-Minimalism, and Conceptual art in general.

The work of Donald Judd is immensely important for Minimalism

Donald Judd
Donald Judd – Untitled (Menziken 89-5), 1989 (Left) / Untitled (Menziken 89-10), 1989 – images courtesy of David Zwirner

101 Spring Street – a Visual Biography

In 1968, following the success of his growing career, Judd bought a building at the northeast corner of Spring and Mercer, and paid $68,000 for it. It would serve as both his place to live and his studio in New York for the next 25 years. The restoration of the building began in 2010 and was completed after three years. Now, anyone even distantly familiar with Judd’s work needs to see it, and there are several pretty convincing reasons. Firstly, you can explore the home and studio of one of the most world’s important artists of the late 20th century. Secondly, you will get to see not only Judd’s pieces but also the works of Dan Flavin, Claes Oldenburg, and Marcel Duchamp. Furthermore, there’s a history at work here, as you can see what did SoHo’s 19th-century cast-iron buildings look like. In the end, there’s also a possibility of reflection of Judd’s contributions to design. Not only has his treatment of the building had an enduring influence on the interior design – the artist made a spirited contribution to the often thorny issue of design’s relationship to design. It’s partly thanks to him that neo-industrial aesthetic associated with restoration of disused warehouses and factories has become so popular recently. The artist bought the place as a wreck. After clearing out the junk, he stripped the interior back to bare plaster walls and wooden floors. The goods elevator was restored, as were the factory staircases. There was a limited amount of bought goods, such a several pieces of furniture. Everything else was designed or improvised by the artist. After his marriage with dancer Julie Finch ended in the early 70’s, Judd moved with the children to the remote town of Marfa, Texas.

Every follower of his career should visit the 101 Spring Street

Donald Judd - 101 Spring Street 2nd Story, photo credits Joshua White
Donald Judd – 101 Spring Street 2nd Story – photo credits Joshua White

Most Notable Artworks

If the artist is one of the most important representatives of a certain artistic movement, then it often means that majority of his pieces is of equal importance, and the task of pointing out several of them is extremely difficult. Nevertheless, some do stand out, whether because of the time of their creation, or the significance in the artist’s career. Judd’s pieces from the 60’s are interesting, as they represent his early experiments in Minimalism. The realization that “actual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint on a surface” led to the abandonment of the painting and embracing of the sculpture. Untitled, 1972, is a large floor-based work consisting of an open-topped, almost square box with sides made from copper and an aluminum base that is enameled on the inside in cadmium red. The red color of the base is reflected by the interior faces of the copper sides, making them a much brighter and richer color than the exterior faces. With its straightforward, rectilinear form and foregrounding of its color and its physical, material presence, Untitled 1972 is a perfect example of a minimalist object. Untitled, 1990 is a wall-based work that ten identical rectangular boxes, each with sides made of blue anodized aluminum and top and bottom faces made of clear acrylic sheeting. The units are fixed to the wall at one of their long sides, positioned one above another in a vertical arrangement, with each box being separated from the next by a distance equal to its height, and this same distance separates the bottom of the lowest unit and the floor. Thinking in advance (about gallery space), the artist predicted that some spaces wouldn’t be tall enough to support the piece in whole – in that scenario, a number of units featured in the work can be reduced in order to overcome the difficulties. It is important to say that Judd did not give descriptive titles to his works, and almost invariably, left them untitled.

His works were left untitled

Donald Judd
Donald Judd – Untitled, 1972, image courtesy of Tate (Left) / Untitled, 1990 – image courtesy of David Zwirner (Right)

Exhibitions and the Foundation

As famous as he was, Judd’s work has been exhibited internationally since the 1960s and is included in many prestigious collections throughout the world. Whitney Museum of American Art organized the very first retrospective of his work in 1968. It was a marvelous event and the one that would establish his importance in the world of contemporary art. Tate Modern, London organized a survey exhibition of Judd’s work in 2004, and the Museum of Modern Art plans to mount a sweeping retrospective of his work. The show will cover the arc of his career, covering everything from painting and art criticism to his later work in furniture design and land preservation, and will be held in the fall of 2017.

Originally conceived in 1977, the Judd Foundation was created in 1996 (after the artist’s death) in order to preserve the work and installations of Donald Judd in his estates in Marfa, Texas and at 101 Spring Street in New York. The Foundation holds the worldwide copyright for all works created by Donald Judd, and is directly responsible for the renovation of the artist’s house in New York, supporting the 16 permanent installations located at 101 Spring Street and in Marfa. Flavin and Reiner Judd, Donald’s children, are currently the members of the Foundation’s board, along with Robert C. Beyer, Dudley Del Balso, Fairfax Dorn, Carl Ryan, Dan Sallick and Ellen Salpeter.

The retrospective at MoMA in 2017 is a must-attend show for every Minimalism aficionado

Donald Judd press
Donald Judd – Untitled, 1967 – image courtesy of David Zwirner

The Legacy

Donald Judd is remembered as one of the most significant representatives of Minimalist art, despite his intolerance toward the term. He is not just a great artist and an inspiration for generations that came after him and had a pleasure of seeing his works. Judd is also a writer of tremendous importance, who provided a critical account of the early and mid-60’s, discussing the work of more than 500 artists in his essays and reviews.

He is represented by David Zwirner, Galerie Mitterrand, Galerie Thalberg and Pace Gallery.

Featured image: Donald Judd – portrait, photo credits photo credits James Dearing/Donald Judd Foundation Archive, Licensed by VAGA, NY
All other images copyright of the Judd Foundation

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group 
2017Donald Judd Retrospective - forthcomingThe Museum of Modern Art, New York, NYSolo
2016Judd. Muebles y grabadosGaleria Elvira Gonzalez, MadridSolo
2016Embracing the Contemporary: The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs CollectionPhiladelphia Museum of ArtGroup
2016Die Sprache der Dinge: Materialgeschichten aus der Sammlung21er Haus, ViennaGroup
2016ExcitementStedelijk Museum AmsterdamGroup
2016Pop, Minimal, and Figurative Art: The Fisher CollectionSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San FranciscoGroup
2016The Campaign for Art: Modern and ContemporarySan Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San FranciscoGroup
2016Sculpture on the Move 1946-2016Kunstmuseum BaselGroup
2016Drawing Dialogues: The Sol LeWitt CollectionThe Drawing Center, New YorkGroup
2016Donald Judd, Roy Lichtenstein, Kenneth Noland: A DialogueLeo Castelli Gallery, New YorkGroup
2016Embracing: Yun Hyong-keun with Chusa and Donald JuddPKM Gallery, SeoulGroup
2016Objects and Bodies at RestModerna Museet, StockholmGroup
2016The Sonnabend Collection: Meio Seculo De Arte Europeia E Americana. Part 1Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Serralves, Porto, PortugalGroup
2016Between the EyesSotheby's, LondonGroup
2016BlackboxingRoom East, New YorkGroup
2016From Minimalism Into AlgorithmThe Kitchen, New YorkGroup
2015Donald JuddDavid Zwirner, New York, NYSolo
2015Donald Judd: PrintsJudd Foundation, New York, NYSolo
2015Equal DimensionsBarbara Krakow Gallery, Boston, MAGroup
2015WoodcutsHiram Butler Gallery, Houston, TXGroup
2015Centennial Impressions from the Fort Worth ModernFlatbed Press, Austin, TXGroup
2015Objects and Bodies at Rest and in MotionModerna Museet, MalmoGroup
2015Opening the Box: Unpacking MinimalismThe George Economou Collection Space, Athens, GreeceGroup
2015Black SunFondation Beyeler, Riehen, SwitzerlandGroup
2015Geometries On and Off the Grid: Art from 1950 to the PresentThe Warehouse, Dallas, TXGroup
2015Where Sculpture and Dance Meet: Minimalism from 1961 to 1979Loretta Howard Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2015America Is Hard to SeeWhitney Museum of American Art, New York, NYGroup
2015Notations: Minimalism in MotionPhiladelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PAGroup
2015Andy Warhol in the Closet: Works from the Collection Rosetta BarabinoMuseo di Arte Contemporanea di Villa Croce, Genova, ItalyGroup
2015American Icons: Masterworks from SFMOMA and the Fisher CollectionGrand Palais, Paris; travels to Musee Granet, Aix-en-Provence, FranceGroup
2015On Kawara, Donald JuddKondaya Genbey, Contemporary Art Foundation, KyotoGroup
2015The New York School, 1969: Henry Geldzahler at the MetropolitanPaul Kasmin Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2014Local History: Enrico Castellani, Donald Judd, Frank StellaDominique Lévy Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2014Kiasma goes Kunsthalle - TaidehalliKunsthalle Helsinki, HelsinkiGroup
2014New Wrinkles (After Judd) 1959-2010Massimo De Carlo London, LondonGroup
2014The Space Where I AmBlain|Southern, LondonGroup
2014Fresh: Haim Steinbach and Objects from the Permanent CollectionThe Menil Collection, Houston, TXGroup
2014Love StoryThe Anne & Wolfgang Titze Collection - Belvedere, ViennaGroup
2014QuizGALERIE POIREL, NancyGroup
2014The House (group show)Faggionato Fine Arts, LondonGroup
2014Objectology - Design and ArtNational Museum of Contemporary Art Korea - Gwacheon, GwacheonGroup
2014PlatformAlmine Rech Gallery, BrusselsGroup
2014Calculated Abstractions - Hard-Edge PrintsUB Art Galleries - University of Buffalo, Buffalo, NYGroup
2014Minimal Baroque: Post-Minimalism and Contemporary ArtRønnebæksholm, NæstvedGroup
2014Minimal ArtGallery A-zone, OkayamaGroup
2014Double Negative: From Painting To ObjectMuseo Tamayo, Mexico CityGroup
2014Everybody is NobodyFundación Banco Santander, Boadilla del MonteGroup
2014Black | WhiteMnuchin Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2014Post PostminimalKunstmuseum St.Gallen, St. GallenGroup
2014CounterIntelligenceJustina M Barnicke Gallery, University of Toronto, Toronto, ONGroup
2014Open Eyes = Open Mind IIIConcept Space, ShibukawaGroup
2013Donald Judd - StacksMnuchin Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2013Wall Works - Hamburger BahnhofMuseum für Gegenwart, BerlinGroup
2013Serial Attitudes - Repetition as an artistic method since the 1960sHamburger Kunsthalle, HamburgGroup
2013Highways and byways. together againDaimler Contemporary, BerlinGroup
2013Quiet EarthRauschenberg Foundation Project space, New York City, NYGroup
2013AutonomousGallery@calit2, La Jolla, CAGroup
2013Upside Down: Specific ObjectsCultuurcentrum Strombeek, GrimbergenGroup
2013Minimal And MoreThe Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MAGroup
2013From Raymond Jonson To Kiki Smith: The Unm Art Museum’S Permanent Collection At Fifty YearsUNM Art Museum - University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NMGroup
2013Private SelectionsNina Freudenheim Gallery, Buffalo, NYGroup
2013Across Dimensions: Graphics And Sculpture From The Permanent CollectionPalm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CAGroup
2013Secrets of Sunset BeachTimothy Taylor Gallery, LondonGroup
2013The Collection As A CharacterMuHKA Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, AntwerpGroup
2013Sculpture After 1945. The Curator's choiceRoyal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, BrusselsGroup
2013Moving - Norman Foster On ArtCarré d´art - Musée d´art contemporain de Nîmes, NîmesGroup
2013Beyond BrancusiNorton Simon Museum of Art, Pasadena, CAGroup
2013Contemporary Texas PrintsEl Paso Museum of Art (EPMA), El Paso, TXGroup
2013Celebrating 20 Years of Neptunstrasse 42Annemarie Verna Gallery, ZurichGroup
2013Répétition IIPaula Cooper Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2013Sets SeriesSenior & Shopmaker Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2013Black SpaceZane Bennett Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, NMGroup
2013VibrationsDes Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IAGroup
2013Répétition: 1960 – 1975Paula Cooper Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2012Donald Judd: Cadmium RedCraig F. Starr Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2012Working Papers: Donald Judd Drawings, 1963-93Sprüth Magers London, LondonSolo
2012Cellblock IiAndrea Rosen Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2012Minimal ReloadedKunstraum Alexander Bürkle, FreiburgGroup
2012OC CollectsOrange County Museum of Art, Newport BeachGroup
2012Under Pressure: Contemporary Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family FoundationJoslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NEGroup
2012Flashback ARTAe Galerie & Kunstvermittlung, LeipzigGroup
2012Big 80Mary Ryan Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2012The New York Collection for StockholmGeorgia Museum of Art, Athens, GAGroup
2012Less Is MoreHeide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, VICGroup
2012When Does Something Become Something Else?Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MNGroup
2012EditionsSenior & Shopmaker Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2012Minimal MythMuseum Boijmans van Beuningen, RotterdamGroup
2012Minimalism - Not Stricly FormalKohn Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2012Light and LandscapeStorm King Art Center, Mountainville, NYGroup
20122012-1 Building: Art in Relation to ArchitectureHiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, HiroshimaGroup
2012Architecture In The Expanded FieldCCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, CAGroup
2012Rodin To Now: Modern SculpturePalm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CAGroup
2012Spirits Of InternationalismMuHKA Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, AntwerpGroup
2012Beijing Voice 2011: Leaving Realism BehindPace Beijing, BeijingGroup
2012Escape from the Vault: A Few Great Paintings and SculpturesHonolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, HIGroup
2012Contemporary Drawings from the Irving Stenn Jr. CollectionThe Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, ILGroup
2012CollectorMUba Eugène Leroy, TourcoingGroup
2012The Language of Less (Then and Now)Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA), Chicago, ILGroup
2012Pacific Standard Editions: An East Coast Look At The West Coast Celebration Of Pacific Standard TimeGemini G.E.L. at Joni Moisant Weyl, New York City, NYGroup
2012Celebrating Hilldale, 1984-1995Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2012New OrderArt Stations Foundation by Grażyna Kulczyk, PoznanGroup
2012Faster and Slower LinesFrom the Collection of Pétur Arason and Ragna Róbertsdóttir - Listasafn Reykjavikur - Reykjavík Art Museum, ReykjavikGroup
2012Segment #1Borusan Contemporary, IstanbulGroup
2012American Prints IIRussell Bowman Art Advisory, Chicago, ILGroup
2012Thirty are better than oneGalerie Tanit, MunichGroup
2012Just MinimalistVivian Horan Fine Art, New York City, NYGroup
2012In Praise of Doubt - Punta della DoganaFrancois Pinault Foundation, VeniceGroup
2011Donald Judd - FurnitureGalerie Greta Meert, BrusselsSolo
2011Donald Judd — A good chair is a good chairDie Neue Sammlung, MunichSolo
2011Donald Judd - ProgressionsGalerie Vedovi, BrusselsSolo
2010A good chair is a good chairIkon Gallery, BirminghamSolo
2009Progressions 1960s & 1970sSimon Lee Gallery, LondonSolo
2009Donald Judd - Colored PlexiglasL&M Arts, New York, New York City, NYSolo
2008DONALD JUDD Woodcut PrintsPaula Cooper Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2007Donald Judd: Reliefs and WoodcutsMary Ryan Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2006Donald Judd - DrawingsArt & Public, GenevaSolo
2005Donald Judd - works from 1967 to 1989Galería Elvira González, MadridSolo
2004Donald Judd in AdelaideArt Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, SASolo
2004Donald Judd: Large-Scale WorksThe Pace Gallery - 534 West 25th Street, New York City, NYSolo
2004For the Pleasure of Seeing - Donald Judd, Untitled, 1976Peter Freeman, Inc., New York City, NYSolo
2004Donald Judd - PlywoodPaula Cooper Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2003Donald Judd - The Early Work, 1956-1968The Menil Collection, Houston, TXSolo
2003Donald Judd - Woodcuts and WoodblocksMargo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo
2002Donald Judd - 50 x 100 x 50 by 100 x 100 x 50The Pace Gallery - 32 East 57th Street, New York City, NYSolo
2002Donald Judd - The Metal FurnitureA D, New York City, NYSolo
2002Donald Judd - PrintsGalerie Bugdahn und Kaimer, DusseldorfSolo
2001The essential Donald JuddWalker Art Center, Minneapolis, MNSolo
2001Donald Judd: STIA CollectsThe Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TXSolo
2001Donald Judd - Prints 1961-1994Susan Sheehan Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2000Donald Judd - FarbeKunsthaus Bregenz, BregenzSolo
2000Donald Judd - ColoristSprengel Museum Hannover, HannoverSolo
2000Donald Judd - 16 untitled plywood wall works, 1976 The Chinati Foundation, Marfa, TXSolo