Donald Judd

Donald Judd

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Donald Clarence Judd was an American artist associated with minimalism
Minimalism
Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is set out to expose the essence, essentials or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts...

 (a term he nonetheless stridently disavowed). In his work, Judd sought autonomy and clarity for the constructed object and the space created by it, ultimately achieving a rigorously democratic presentation without compositional hierarchy. It created an outpouring of seemingly effervescent works that defied the term "minimalism". Nevertheless, he is generally considered the leading international exponent of "minimalism," and it's most important theoretician through such seminal writings such as "Specific Objects" (1964).

Background and education


Judd was born in Excelsior Springs
Excelsior Springs, Missouri
Excelsior Springs is a city in Clay and Ray counties in the U.S. state of Missouri. The population was 11,084 at the 2010 census. It is located approximately northeast of central Kansas City, Missouri.- Geography :...

, Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

. He served in the Army from 1946-1947 as an engineer and in 1948 began his studies in philosophy at the College of William and Mary
College of William and Mary
The College of William & Mary in Virginia is a public research university located in Williamsburg, Virginia, United States...

, later transferring to Columbia University School of General Studies
Columbia University School of General Studies
The School of General Studies, commonly known as General Studies or simply GS, is one of the three official undergraduate colleges at Columbia University. It is a highly selective Ivy League undergraduate liberal arts college designed for non-traditional students and confers Bachelor of Art and...

. At Columbia, he earned a degree in philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 and worked towards a master's in art history under Rudolf Wittkower
Rudolf Wittkower
Rudolf Wittkower was a German art historian.-Biography:He was born in Berlin and moved to London in 1934. He taught at the Warburg Institute, University of London from 1934 to 1956 and then at Columbia University from 1956 to 1969 where he was chairman of the Department of Art History and...

 and Meyer Shapiro
Meyer Shapiro
Meyer Shapiro may refer to:*Meir Shapiro, dean of Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva, and founder of the Daf Yomi Talmud folio cycle*Meyer Shapiro, one of the Shapiro Brothers, New York City labor racketeer*Meyer Schapiro, art historian...

. Also at Columbia he attended night classes at the Art Students League of New York
Art Students League of New York
The Art Students League of New York is an art school located on West 57th Street in New York City. The League has historically been known for its broad appeal to both amateurs and professional artists, and has maintained for over 130 years a tradition of offering reasonably priced classes on a...

. He supported himself by writing art criticism for major American art magazines between 1959 and 1965.

Early work


In the late 1940s, Donald Judd began to practice as a painter. His first solo exhibition, of expressionist
Expressionism
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

 paintings, opened in New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 in 1957. From the mid-1950s to 1961, as he explored the medium of the woodcut
Woodcut
Woodcut—occasionally known as xylography—is a relief printing artistic technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed, typically with gouges...

, Judd progressively moved from figurative to increasingly abstract imagery, first carving organic rounded shapes, then moving on to the painstaking craftsmanship of straight lines and angles. His artistic style soon moved away from illusory media and embraced constructions in which materiality was central to the work. He would not have another one person show until the Green Gallery
Green Gallery
The Green Gallery was an art gallery that operated between 1960 and 1965 and was located at 15 West 57th Street in Manhattan, New York, United States. The director of the gallery was Richard Bellamy , and it was one of the first uptown galleries to show the work of the downtown New York avant-garde...

 in 1963, an exhibition of works that he finally thought worthy of showing.

By 1963 Judd had established an essential vocabulary of forms — ‘stacks’, ‘boxes’ and ‘progressions’ — which preoccupied him for the next thirty years. Most of his output was in freestanding "specific objects" (the name of his seminal essay of 1965 published in Arts Yearbook 8, 1965), that used simple, often repeated forms to explore space and the use of space. Humble materials such as metal
Metal
A metal , is an element, compound, or alloy that is a good conductor of both electricity and heat. Metals are usually malleable and shiny, that is they reflect most of incident light...

s, industrial plywood
Plywood
Plywood is a type of manufactured timber made from thin sheets of wood veneer. It is one of the most widely used wood products. It is flexible, inexpensive, workable, re-usable, and can usually be locally manufactured...

, concrete
Concrete
Concrete is a composite construction material, composed of cement and other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate , water and chemical admixtures.The word concrete comes from the Latin word...

 and color-impregnated Plexiglas became staples of his career. Judd's first floor box structure was made in 1964, and his first floor box using Plexiglas follwed one year later. Also by 1964, he began work on wall-mounted sculptures. While Judd executed early works himself (in collaboration with his father, Roy Judd), in 1964 he began delegating fabrication to professional artisans and manufacturers based on his drawings.

As he abandoned painting for sculpture in the early 1960s, he wrote the manifesto-like essay “Specific Objects” in 1964. In his essay, Judd found a starting point for a new territory for American art, and a simultaneous rejection of residual inherited European artistic values, these values being illusion and represented space, as opposed to real space. He pointed to evidence of this development in the works of an array of artists active in New York at the time, including Lucas Samaras
Lucas Samaras
Lucas Samaras , is an artist, born in Kastoria, Greece. He studied at Rutgers University on a scholarship, where he met Allan Kaprow and George Segal. While at Rutgers, he joined Gamma Sigma . He participated in Kaprow's "Happenings," and posed for Segal's plaster sculptures...

, John Chamberlain, Jasper Johns
Jasper Johns
Jasper Johns, Jr. is an American contemporary artist who works primarily in painting and printmaking.-Life:Born in Augusta, Georgia, Jasper Johns spent his early life in Allendale, South Carolina with his paternal grandparents after his parents' marriage failed...

, Dan Flavin
Dan Flavin
Dan Flavin was an American minimalist artist famous for creating sculptural objects and installations from commercially available fluorescent light fixtures.-Early life and career:...

, George Earl Ortman
George Earl Ortman
George Earl Ortman is an American painter, printmaker, constructionist and sculptor. His work has been referred to as Neo-Dada, Pop art,Minimalism, and Hard Edge...

 and Lee Bontecou
Lee Bontecou
Lee Bontecou is an American artist who was born 15 January 1931 in Providence, Rhode Island. She attended the Art Students League of New York from 1952 to 1955, where she studied with the sculptor William Zorach. She received a Fulbright scholarship to study in Rome in 1957-1958 and the Louis...

. The works that Judd had fabricated inhabited a space not then comfortably classifiable as either painting or sculpture and in fact he refused to call them sculpture, pointing out that they were not sculpted but made by small fabricators using industrial processes. That the categorical identity of such objects was itself in question, and that they avoided easy association with well-worn and over-familiar conventions, was a part of their value for Judd. He displayed two pieces in the seminal 1966 exhibit, "Primary Structures" at the Jewish Museum in New York where, during a panel discussion of the work, he challenged Mark di Suvero
Mark di Suvero
Marco Polo "Mark" di Suvero is an American abstract expressionist sculptor born Marco Polo Levi in Shanghai, China in 1933 to Italian expatriates. He immigrated to San Francisco, California in 1942 with his family. From 1953 to 1957, he attended the University of California, Berkeley to study...

's assertion that real artists make their own art. He replied that methods should not matter as long as the results create art; a groundbreaking concept in the accepted creation process. In 1968, the Whitney Museum of American Art
Whitney Museum of American Art
The Whitney Museum of American Art, often referred to simply as "the Whitney", is an art museum with a focus on 20th- and 21st-century American art. Located at 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street in New York City, the Whitney's permanent collection contains more than 18,000 works in a wide variety of...

 staged a retrospective of his work which included none of his early paintings.

In 1968, Judd bought a five-story building in New York that allowed him to start placing his work in a more permanent manner than was possible in gallery or museum shows. This would later lead him to push for permanent installations for his work and that of others, as he believed that temporary exhibitions, being designed by curators for the public, placed the art itself in the background, ultimately degrading it due to incompetency or incomprehension. This would become a major preoccupation as the idea of permanent installation grew in importance and his distaste for the art world grew in equal proportion.

Mature work


In the early 1970s his art increased in scale and complexity. He started making room sized installations that made the spaces themselves his playground and the viewing of his art a visceral, physical experience. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s he produced radical work that eschewed the classical European ideals of representational sculpture. Judd believed that art should not represent anything, that it should unequivocally stand on its own and simply exist. His aesthetic followed his own strict rules against illusion and falsity, producing work that was clear, strong and definite.

Judd started using plywood in the early 1970s. He later began using Cor-ten steel in the 1980s for a small number of large-scale outdoor pieces, and by 1989 would create single and multi-part works with the material. The artist began working with enamel on aluminum in 1984, when he had the Lehni factory in Switzerland bend thin sheets of the material—a process previously used to create furniture—for a temporary exhibition outdoor in the Merian Park, outside Basel. Judd’s work with enamel on aluminum greatly expanded his palette of industrial colors, which had previously been restricted to the colors of anodized metal and Plexiglas. Combining a wide range of colors, he used the material to create five large-scale floor pieces and horizontal wall works in unique variations of color and size.The Pace Gallery Presents Donald Judd: Works in Granite, Cor-ten, Plywood, and Enamel on Aluminum, February 18 - March 26, 2011, Pace Gallery, New York.

Furniture design and architecture


In his later years, Judd also worked with furniture, design, and architecture. The first furniture was designed in 1973, when he moved from New York to Marfa. Early furniture was made of rough pine but Judd continually refined the construction. Later he worked in sheet metal. The pieces included chairs, beds, shelves, desks and tables. Desk and Chair (both 1984), made of clear anodised aluminium and copper respectively, demonstrate Judd’s move from hand-crafted forms to embracing methods of industrial manufacture. At his death, he was working on designs for a fountain commissioned by the city of Winterthur
Winterthur
Winterthur is a city in the canton of Zurich in northern Switzerland. It has the country's sixth largest population with an estimate of more than 100,000 people. In the local dialect and by its inhabitants, it is usually abbreviated to Winti...

 in 1991, Switzerland, and a new glass facade for a railroad station in Basel
Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

, Switzerland.

Chinati Foundation



In the early seventies Judd started making annual trips to Baja California
Baja California
Baja California officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Baja California is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is both the northernmost and westernmost state of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1953, the area was known as the North...

 with his family. He was very affected by the clean, empty desert and this strong attachment to the land would remain with him for the rest of his life. In 1971 he rented a house in Marfa, Texas
Marfa, Texas
Marfa is a town in the high desert of far West Texas in the Southwestern United States. Located between the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park, it is also the county seat of Presidio County. The population was 1,981 at the 2010 census....

 as an antidote to the hectic New York art world. From this humble house he would later buy numerous buildings and a 60,000 acre (243 km²) Ayala de Chinati Ranch (not open to the public), almost all carefully restored to his exacting standards; though rumored that much of the 'preserved' land has been sold. These properties and his building in New York are now maintained by the Judd Foundation.

In 1976 he served as Baldwin Professor at Oberlin College
Oberlin College
Oberlin College is a private liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio, noteworthy for having been the first American institution of higher learning to regularly admit female and black students. Connected to the college is the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the oldest continuously operating...

 in Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

. Beginning in 1983, he lectured at universities across the United States, Europe and Asia on both art and its relationship to architecture.

In 1979, with help from the Dia Art Foundation
Dia Art Foundation
Dia Art Foundation is a non-profit organization that initiates, supports, presents, and preserves art projects. It was established in 1974 as the Lone Star Foundation by Philippa de Menil, the daughter of Houston arts patron Dominique de Menil and an heiress to the Schlumberger oil exploration...

, Judd purchased a 340 acre
Acre
The acre is a unit of area in a number of different systems, including the imperial and U.S. customary systems. The most commonly used acres today are the international acre and, in the United States, the survey acre. The most common use of the acre is to measure tracts of land.The acre is related...

 (1.4 km²) tract of desert land near Marfa, Texas
Marfa, Texas
Marfa is a town in the high desert of far West Texas in the Southwestern United States. Located between the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park, it is also the county seat of Presidio County. The population was 1,981 at the 2010 census....

 which included the abandoned buildings of the former U.S. Army Fort D. A. Russell
Fort D. A. Russell (Texas)
Fort D. A. Russell is the name of an American military installation near Marfa, Texas, that was active from 1911 to 1946.Established in 1911 as Camp Albert, it was a base for cavalry and air reconnaissance units sent to protect West Texas from Mexican bandits after the Pancho Villa raid.The base...

. The Chinati Foundation
Chinati Foundation
The Chinati Foundation/La Fundación Chinati is a contemporary art museum located in Marfa, Texas and based upon the ideas of its founder, artist Donald Judd.- Mission :...

 opened on the site in 1986 as a non-profit art foundation, dedicated to Judd and his contemporaries. The permanent collection consists of large-scale works by Judd, sculptor John Chamberlain, light-artist Dan Flavin
Dan Flavin
Dan Flavin was an American minimalist artist famous for creating sculptural objects and installations from commercially available fluorescent light fixtures.-Early life and career:...

 and select others, including David Rabinowitch, Roni Horn
Roni Horn
Roni Horn is an American visual artist and writer. Horn's oeuvre, which spans almost four decades, encompasses sculpture, drawing, photography, language, and site-specific installation. The granddaughter of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, she was born in New York and lives and works in New York...

, Ilya Kabakov
Ilya Kabakov
Ilya Kabakov, Russian Илья́ Ио́сифович Кабако́в , is a Russian-American conceptual artist of Jewish descent, born in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine. He worked for thirty years in Moscow, from the 1950s until the late 1980s. He now lives and works on Long Island...

, Richard Long
Richard Long (artist)
Richard Long is an English sculptor, photographer and painter, one of the best known British land artists. Long is the only artist to be shortlisted for the Turner Prize four times, and he is reputed to have refused the prize in 1984...

, Carl Andre
Carl Andre
Carl Andre is an American minimalist artist recognized for his ordered linear format and grid format sculptures. His sculptures range from large public artworks to more intimate tile patterns arranged on the floor of an exhibition space Carl Andre (born September 16, 1935) is an American...

 and Claes Oldenburg
Claes Oldenburg
Claes Oldenburg is a Swedish sculptor, best known for his public art installations typically featuring very large replicas of everyday objects...

 and Coosje Van Bruggen. Judd's work in Marfa includes 15 outdoor works in concrete and 100 aluminum pieces housed in two painstakingly renovated artillery sheds.

Academic work


Judd taught at several academic institutions in the United States: Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences (1962-64); Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College is a private, Ivy League university in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States. The institution comprises a liberal arts college, Dartmouth Medical School, Thayer School of Engineering, and the Tuck School of Business, as well as 19 graduate programs in the arts and sciences...

, Hanover (1966); and Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, New Haven (1967). In 1976 he served as Baldwin Professor at Oberlin College
Oberlin College
Oberlin College is a private liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio, noteworthy for having been the first American institution of higher learning to regularly admit female and black students. Connected to the college is the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the oldest continuously operating...

 in Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

. Beginning in 1983, he lectured at universities across the United States, Europe and Asia on both art and its relationship to architecture. During his lifetime, Judd published a large body of theoretical writings, in which he rigorously promoted the cause of Minimalist Art; these essays were consolidated in two volumes published in 1975 and 1987.

Exhibitions


The Panoramas Gallery organized his first solo exhibition in 1957. The Whitney Museum of American Art
Whitney Museum of American Art
The Whitney Museum of American Art, often referred to simply as "the Whitney", is an art museum with a focus on 20th- and 21st-century American art. Located at 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street in New York City, the Whitney's permanent collection contains more than 18,000 works in a wide variety of...

, New York, organized the first retrospective of his work in 1968. During this decade, the artist received many fellowships, among them a grant from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation was founded in 1925 by Mr. and Mrs. Simon Guggenheim in memory of their son, who died April 26, 1922...

 in 1968. In 1975 the National Gallery of Canada
National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada , located in the capital city Ottawa, Ontario, is one of Canada's premier art galleries.The Gallery is now housed in a glass and granite building on Sussex Drive with a notable view of the Canadian Parliament buildings on Parliament Hill. The acclaimed structure was...

, Ottawa, organized a Judd exhibition and published a catalogue raisonné of Judd’s work. He participated in his first Venice Biennale
Venice Biennale
The Venice Biennale is a major contemporary art exhibition that takes place once every two years in Venice, Italy. The Venice Film Festival is part of it. So too is the Venice Biennale of Architecture, which is held in even years...

 in 1980, and in Documenta
Documenta
documenta is an exhibition of modern and contemporary art which takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany. It was founded by artist, teacher and curator Arnold Bode in 1955 as part of the Bundesgartenschau which took place in Kassel at that time...

, Kassel, in 1982.

In 1987, Judd was honored by a large exhibition at the Van Abbemuseum
Van Abbemuseum
Van Abbemuseum is a museum of modern and contemporary art located in central Eindhoven, Netherlands, on the east bank of the Dommel river. Established in 1936, the Abbe Museum is named after its founder, Abbe Henri. Abbe was a lover of modern art and wanted to enjoy it there from Eindhoven...

, Eindhoven; this show traveled to Düsseldorf, Paris, Barcelona, and Turin. The Whitney Museum organized a second, traveling retrospective of his work in 1988. Another major European survey was mounted by Tate Modern
Tate Modern
Tate Modern is a modern art gallery located in London, England. It is Britain's national gallery of international modern art and forms part of the Tate group . It is the most-visited modern art gallery in the world, with around 4.7 million visitors per year...

 in 2004.

Position on the art market


Judd's ten-unit sculpture Untitled, 1968 (DSS 120) made of stainless steel and amber Plexiglas was sold for $4.9 million at Christie's
Christie's
Christie's is an art business and a fine arts auction house.- History :The official company literature states that founder James Christie conducted the first sale in London, England, on 5 December 1766, and the earliest auction catalogue the company retains is from December 1766...

 New York in 2009.

The Leo Castelli Gallery
Leo Castelli
Leo Castelli was an American art dealer. He was best known to the public as an art dealer whose gallery showcased cutting edge Contemporary art for five decades...

, New York, represented the artist from 1965 to 1985. Judd then worked with Paula Cooper Gallery
Paula Cooper Gallery
The Paula Cooper Gallery is an art gallery in New York City founded in 1968.The gallery is primarily known for the Minimalist and Conceptual artists it has represented and whose careers it helped launch. Such artists include: Carl Andre, Jennifer Bartlett, Lynda Benglis, Mark di Suvero, Donald...

, New York, where he had a number of solo shows, and PaceWildenstein
PaceWildenstein
The Pace Gallery is a contemporary and modern art gallery founded by Arne Glimcher in Boston 1960 as The Pace Gallery. The gallery moved to Manhattan in 1963 and from 1993 to 2010 operated jointly with Wildenstein & Co. as PaceWildenstein. There are three locations in Manhattan and one in...

, which represented him through the end of his life. Judd's work has been represented - through the Judd Foundation - by David Zwirner
David Zwirner
David Zwirner is a gallerist and art dealer and owner of the David Zwirner Gallery in New York City. In 2010 Zwirner was listed at number four in the ArtReview annual "Power 100" list.-Early Life:...

 since 2010..

Judd Foundation


Originally conceived in 1977, and created in 1996, the Judd Foundation was formed in order to preserve the work and installations of Judd in Marfa, Texas and at 101 Spring Street in New York. In 2006, the Judd Foundation decided to auction off about 36 of his sculptures at Christie's
Christie's
Christie's is an art business and a fine arts auction house.- History :The official company literature states that founder James Christie conducted the first sale in London, England, on 5 December 1766, and the earliest auction catalogue the company retains is from December 1766...

 in New York on the 20th floor of the Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster, Inc., a division of CBS Corporation, is a publisher founded in New York City in 1924 by Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster. It is one of the four largest English-language publishers, alongside Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins...

 building. Concerns that the sale would have an adverse effect on the market proved unfounded and the exhibition itself won an AICA award for "Best Installation in an Alternative Space" for 2006. The $20 million in proceeds from the sale went into an endowment that enable the Foundation to fulfill its mission, supporting the 16 permanent installations that are located at 101 Spring Street in New York City and Marfa, Texas. Marianne Stockebrand, director of the Chinati Foundation, resigned from her post on the Judd Foundation’s board partly in protest of the auction.

Personal


Judd married dancer Julie Finch in 1964 (later divorced) and fathered two children, son Flavin Starbuck Judd and daughter Rainer Yingling Judd. He died in Manhattan of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1994. He had homes in Manhattan, Marfa, Texas
Marfa, Texas
Marfa is a town in the high desert of far West Texas in the Southwestern United States. Located between the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park, it is also the county seat of Presidio County. The population was 1,981 at the 2010 census....

 and Kussnacht am Rigi, Switzerland.

External links