Donald Clarence Judd
(1928 - 1994)
Donald Clarence Judd was active/lived in New York, Texas / Switzerland. Donald Judd is known for minimalist three-dimensional constructions, abstract imagery.
Donald Clarence Judd
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Biography from the Archives of askART
Donald Clarence Judd was an American artist associated with minimalism (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 its most important theoretician through such seminal writings as "Specific Objects" (1964).
Biography from the Archives of askART
Judd was born in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. He served in the Army from 1946 to 1947 as an engineer and in 1948 began his studies in philosophy at the College of William and Mary, later transferring to Columbia University School of General Studies. At Columbia, he earned a degree in philosophy and worked towards a master's in art history under Rudolf Wittkower and Meyer Schapiro.
At this time he also attended night classes at the Art Students League of New York. He supported himself by writing art criticism for major American art magazines between 1959 and 1965. In 1968 Judd bought a five-story cast-iron building, designed by Nicholas Whyte in 1870, at 101 Spring Street for under $70,000, serving as his New York residence and studio. Over the next 25 years, Judd renovated the building floor by floor, sometimes installing works he purchased or commissioned from other artists.
In the late 1940s, Donald Judd began to practice as a painter. His first solo exhibition, of expressionist paintings, opened in New York in 1957. From the mid-1950s to 1961, as he explored the medium of the woodcut, 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 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 metals, industrial plywood, concrete 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 followed one year later. Also by 1964, he began work on wall-mounted sculptures, and first developed the curved progression format of these works in 1964 as a development from his work on an untitled floor piece that set a hollow pipe into a solid wooden block.
While Judd executed early works himself (in collaboration with his father, Roy Judd), in 1964 he began delegating fabrication to professional artisans and manufacturers (such as the industrial manufacturers Bernstein Brothers) based on his drawings. In 1965, Judd created his first stack, an arrangement of identical iron units stretching from floor to ceiling.
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'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 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.
In the early 1970s, Judd's 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 unpainted plywood in the early 1970s, a material the artist embraced for its durable structural qualities, which enabled him to expand the size of his works while avoiding the problem of bending or buckling. Plywood had been the staple of his art earlier, but never unpainted. 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 Cor-ten works are unique in that they are the only works the artist fabricated in Marfa. The artist began working with enamel on aluminum in 1984, when he commissioned Lehni AG in Switzerland to construct works by bending and riveting thin sheets of the material, a process Judd previously used to create furniture.
These pieces were initially created for a temporary outdoor exhibition in Merian Park outside Basel. Judd would continue to produce pieces using these techniques through the early 1990s. Judd’s work with enamel on aluminum greatly expanded his palette of colors, which had previously been restricted to the colors of anodized metal and Plexiglas, and led to the use of more than two colors in an individual artwork.
In his later years, Judd also worked with furniture, design, and architecture. He was careful to distinguish his design practice from his artwork, writing in 1993:
"The configuration and the scale of art cannot be transposed into furniture and architecture. The intent of art is different from that of the latter, which must be functional. If a chair or a building is not functional, if it appears to be only art, it is ridiculous. The art of a chair is not its resemblance to art, but is partly its reasonableness, usefulness and scale as a chair...A work of art exists as itself; a chair exists as a chair itself."
The first furniture was designed in 1973, when he moved from New York to Marfa. His designs included chairs, beds, shelves, desks and tables. Judd was initially prompted to design furniture by his own dissatisfaction with what was commercially available in Marfa. Early furniture was made by Judd of rough, lumberyard-cut pine but he continually refined the construction of the wooden pieces, employing craftspeople using a variety of techniques and materials around the world.
In the early seventies Judd started making annual trips to Baja California with his family. He was 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 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. 40,000 acres surrounding the three ranch headquarters were sold under a conservation easement, but Judd Foundation still maintains the buildings and the land immediately surrounding them.
In 1979, with help from the Dia Art Foundation, Judd purchased a 340 acre (1.4 km²) tract of desert land near Marfa, Texas, which included the abandoned buildings of the former U.S. Army Fort D. A. Russell. The Chinati Foundation 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 and select others, including David Rabinowitch, Roni Horn, Ilya Kabakov, Richard Long, Carl Andre and Claes Oldenburg 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.
Judd taught at several academic institutions in the United States: The Allen-Stevenson School (1960s), Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences (1962–64); Dartmouth College, Hanover (1966); and Yale University, New Haven (1967). In 1976 he served as Baldwin Professor at Oberlin College in Ohio. 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.
The Panoramas Gallery organized his first solo exhibition in 1957. The Whitney Museum of American Art, 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 in 1968. In 1975 the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, organized a Judd exhibition and published a catalogue raisonné of Judd’s work. He participated in his first Venice Biennale in 1980, and in Documenta, Kassel, in 1982.
In 1987, Judd was honored by a large exhibition at the Van Abbemuseum, 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 in 2004.
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 and Kussnacht am Rigi, Switzerland.
"Donald Judd", Wikipedia, March 2016
Born in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, Donald Judd became an artist whose writings and works were crucial to the emergence of a new form of three-dimensional art, which he referred to as "specific objects." His legacy is that of simplicity, "all of art history pared down to the basic geometric module of a box made of industrial materials" (ARTNews 5/99). He rejected the symbolism and emotive work of the abstract expressionists, based on free-wheeling use of color, and injected industrial materials as art.
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He is widely known for his "stacks," units with which from 1963 he developed a vocabulary of colored metals and plexiglass. The stacks are installed so that the spaces between the units are the same dimension as the units themselves, forcing a reading of positive and negative space. These free- standing sculptures were simple forms without bases and were made from wood and metal. They were easy to understand and imparted a sense of order, a unification that existed only for itself.
Judd earned a B. S. in philosophy "cum laude" from Columbia University in 1953, and also did course work there towards an MFA but never finished the final thesis. He attended the Art Students League in New York from 1948 to 1953, and then had a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He also won the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture.
In May, 1999 ARTNews magazine featured him as one of the top twenty-five influential artists of the western world and credit him with expanding "the boundaries among art, architecture, furniture, and design" . . .
Editor, "The Century's 25 Most Influential", ARTNews, May 1999, p. 128
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