Donald Judd was a highly regarded American sculptor and critic. Born in Missouri, he moved to New York where he studied painting at the Art Students League of New York before completing his graduate studies in philosophy and art history at Columbia University. Through his art practice and writing, he significantly influenced the course of late-20th-century sculpture and although he strongly rejected the term, he became an important figure of the Minimalist art movement.Read More
Arguably one of the most well-known American post-war artists, Judd today is best recognised for his Plexiglas, metal, and wood rectangular and square boxes. However, he initially began his art practice as an abstract painter. He soon transitioned to sculptural work, culminating in his 'stacks'—sets of rectangular cubes that protrude from the wall in vertical columns hung evenly from floor to ceiling. Untitled (90-7 Bernstein) is one such work, comprised of ten boxes of red anodized aluminum and transparent Plexiglas. Made of industrial materials, Judd's 'stacks' demonstrate his foundational interest in the formal properties of colour, material, form, and space.
Pertinent to Judd's practice was a consideration of how a sculpture could exist in a space and how viewers could navigate around it. This interest in spatial dynamics extended to an innovative architecture and design practice. In the late 1960s he designed small shelters in Baja California that would influence his later designs for buildings in Marfa and Europe. In the 1970s he also began designing furniture for his various residences. Pieces such as Corner Chair 15 make clear that the artist brought the angularity and refined craftsmanship of his sculptures to the other spheres of his practice as well.
Judd described his own works as 'the simple expression of complex thought.' Such complex thought was also manifested in the essays that the artist would produce throughout his life. A seminal text still widely referenced today, his 'Specific Objects' essay was published in Arts Yearbook 8 in 1965. It proposed a painting-sculpture hybrid that reflected his own development in thinking about the two media as well the similar process of conceptual expansion that was contemporaneously occurring for his peers.
Judd's first museum survey took place in 1968 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and he has since been the subject of numerous institutional exhibitions, including a major survey at Tate Modern, London, in 2004. His artwork is held in many major collections, including at Tate; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
In 1968 Judd moved to Marfa, Texas, where he purchased a five-storey home and studio. Over time he acquired for the building a range of permanent installations of his work and the work of colleagues such as Dan Flavin. This home is now part of the multi-building museum The Chinati Foundation. The Judd Foundation maintains and preserves the artist's other living and working spaces, libraries, and archives, both in Marfa and in New York.
Ocula | 2019
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