Locksley Shea Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Purchased by Akron Art Institute (Museum), 1972
2007 - : Haslinger galleries, 7/7/07 - , Akron Art Museum
2002: "Ferus" 9/12/0 -10/19/02, Gagosian Gallery, New York, New York
1997: "Snap, Crackle, Pop! Warhol and his Contemporaries" 3/22/97 - 9/21/97, Akron Art Museum
1995 - 1996: "Groovy. Art of the '60s" 10/28/95 - 2/28/96, Akron Art Museum
1994: "Polymers in Art" Gallery A: 4/30/94 - 10/16/94; Gallery B: 4/10/94 - 6/19/94, Akron Art Museum
1991-1992: "Focus on the Collection: A 70th Anniversary Celebration" 11/3/91-1/5/92, Akron Art Museum
1991: "Abstract Sculpture in America: 1930-1970" tour, organized by AFA, added to venue, 8/24/91 - 10/20/91, Akron Art Museum
1990: "American Abstraction: 1968-1976" 5/5/90 - 11/25/90, Akron Art Museum
1986: "Minimalist Works from the Permanent Collection" 4/18/86 - 10/26/86, Akron Art Museum
1973: "Works of Art from the Akron Art Institute" 6/18/73 - 7/25/73, Kent State University School of Art Gallery, Kent, Ohio
Collection of the Akron Art Museum
Donald Judd's use of industrial materials and fabrication initially struck viewers as a rejection of aesthetics. In retrospect, his rigorous proportions and elegantly spare surfaces establish a radical new vision of classical order.
After army service during the Korean War, Judd received undergraduate and graduate degrees from Columbia University, where he studied philosophy and art history. In New York in the early 1960s he painted, taught, and became well known as an art critic. By 1963 he was working almost exclusively with three-dimensional boxlike structures. Two years later he began exhibiting internationally. His most unusual legacy is the Chinati Foundation in desolate west Texas. In a former army base, Judd presented his art and that of selected colleagues in ideal environments that they painstakingly designed.
One of the major sculptors of the twentieth century, Judd rejected Abstract Expressionism's gestural, emotional approach to painting and sculpture. Along with Frank Stella (see pp. 202–3), Judd became a key proponent of an analytical emphasis on art's basic visual properties. In this approach, painting might investigate flatness and color; sculpture would seek to define structure, volume, and edge. Like Stella, Judd was committed to forms and shapes that made no allusion whatsoever to nature. He insisted that an artist’s ambition to create metaphorical meaning could only lead to a dead end. Instead, in his geometric forms Judd tried to concentrate attention on perception and structure, issues that reflect his philosophical study of empiricism.
In 1964 Judd turned to outside industrial fabrication rather than hand construction in the studio. Metals, plastic, concrete, and plywood became his favored materials. His rejection of the artist's individual touch became widely influential. "Minimalism" became the commonly accepted term for this new aesthetic, which was also championed by Robert Morris (see pp. 152–53) and Sol LeWitt (see pp. 180–81).
A key work in Judd's career, Untitled is a rectangular box with open ends. Its pristine exterior is clear anodized aluminum, and its sleek interior is sheathed in a one-eighth-inch layer of green Plexiglas. Judd also created a second, identical version of Untitled. In addition he designed other boxes of the same dimensions with blue and violet Plexiglas, as well as versions in brass and steel without interior plastic.
The box was Judd's favorite format; he employed it throughout his career in different dimensions with openings variously at the ends, sides, and tops. He often arranged boxes in series, either horizontally or stacked vertically. His use of different materials for exterior and interior breaks a primary unit into two parts, even as the eye sees one basic form. As Judd explained, "The whole's it. The big problem is to maintain the sense of the whole thing."1 By also focusing attention on the green interior of Untitled, Judd challenges the expectation that a sculpture's interest resides solely in its external surface. The play of reflections is almost baroque by Judd's austere standards, introducing complexity to an apparently simple structure.
Judd declined to title his work because he did not want to allude to anything beyond the object itself. To discuss a piece demands uttering a physical description of its dimensions and materials. Experiencing the work is based on facts and observation, not touch or a psychological reaction.
Judd decried the pretension that art reveals "some larger order" in the universe, but great art by definition deals with metaphor and refers to ideas and feelings beyond what the eye can see. One of the paradoxes of Judd's aesthetic is that his insistence on clarity and the integrity of unadorned materials often results in an experience of elation and purity for the viewer. Inevitably, his immaculate and refined structures extol the mind's capacity for comprehension, control, and order.
- Mitchell D. Kahan, 2001
1. "Questions to Stella and Judd," interview by Bruce Glaser, ed. Lucy R. Lippard, ARTnews (September 1966); reprinted in Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology, ed. Gregory Battcock (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1968), 154.
Donald Judd. Essay by Rainer Crone. Eindhoven, The Netherlands: Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, 1987.
Elger, Dietmar. Donald Judd: Colorist. Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany: Edition Cantz, 2000.
Haskell, Barbara. Donald Judd. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art in association with W. W. Norton, 1988.