Having pushed the boundaries of the traditional categories of painting and sculpture throughout his influential career, Judd’s later output continues his profound investigation into the art object with a newfound interest in color. Whereas the artist’s work from 1960-1984 focused on its formal aspects and never featured more than two different colors in one piece, the last decade of his artistic career saw an unprecedented chromatic diversity. Executed in 1984, Untitled (85-5 Lehni AG) is an outstanding example of his multicolored works, here characterized by the rich, earthy black and brown tones in conjunction with vibrant yellow and crimson red hues. Color is a crucial aspect of Judd’s practice, as the artist explains: "Color is like material. It is one way or another, but it obdurately exists. Its existence as it is the main fact and not what it might mean, which may be nothing [...] If there were an identifiable feeling to red or to red and black together they would not be useable to me [...] Color, like material, is what art is made from. It alone is not art" (Donald Judd, 'Some Aspects of color in General and Red and Black in Particular', 1993, Ibid., pp. 110-14).
Formerly in the private collection of an Italian minimal art collector, which was featured in the award-winning movie La Grande Belezza, Donald Judd’s Untitled (85-5 Lehni AG) perfectly encapsulates the central tenets of one of the most influential bodies of work in post-war American art-history. Rather than representing a gateway into illusionism, Judd’s use of brown, black, yellow and red are an integral part of the work’s formal appearance. The industrial gloss of these aluminium color surfaces and the occasional appearance of shadows along the object’s internal parts, present Untitled (85-5 Lehni AG) as a phenomenology of color. It is in these works from the 1980s that Judd succeeded to integrate colour in a greater variety and complexity than ever before, establishing him as a “master of color” as dubbed by art historian Rudi Fuchs.
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