“Color, like material, is what art is made from."
Austere in form yet sophisticated in color and spatial treatment, Untitled from 1984 is a quintessential example of Donald Judd’s radically innovative sculptural practice. A key figure of the Minimal Art movement, Judd’s influential practice abided by strict conceptual tenets, articulated within a discrete vocabulary of three-dimensional forms and materials. Through the resulting sculptures, which the artist titled his specific objects, Judd defined a holistic aesthetic philosophy whereby the work of art need only refer to its own internal geometry and external form within the space it occupies. Flawlessly constructed from aluminum and vibrant blue Plexiglas, Untitled serves as the ultimate embodiment of the artist’s own statement: “Color, like material, is what art is made from.” (the artist cited in: Exh. Cat., Hanover, Sprengel Museum Hannover, Donald Judd, Colorist, 2000, p. 114)
Extending dramatically along the horizontal plane, Untitled is a sophisticated example of Judd’s seminal wall-mounted sculptures. In the present work, totemic compartments give way to a non-hierarchical treatment of space, in which neatly articulated aluminum units reveal a gleaming internal landscape of blue Plexiglas. Untitled is part of a series of sculptures – known as Progressions – first created in the 1960s using numerical formulas as a way of determining sculptural form. Through a deployment of geometry and mathematics, Judd invokes a phenomenological encounter with the art object: a heightened sense of perception in which rectangular linearity celebrates simplicity of form. The principle of the Progressions, in tandem with the sequence of equal-status elements, establishes an egalitarian object in which no one component is held above or below the rest.
Untitled exemplifies Judd’s career-long examination of color as a primary component of his sculptural practice. In the present work, Judd employed colored Plexiglas as an internal surface, thereby utilizing color and light as the means by which he heightens the spatial complexity of his otherwise rigorously simplified form. Describing his use of colored Plexiglas during this period, Judd reflects: “The box with the Plexiglas inside is an attempt to make a definitive second surface. The inside is radically different from the outside. Whilst the outside is definite and rigorous, the inside is indefinite.” (the artist in: Exh. Cat., Saitama, The Museum of Modern Art (and traveling), Donald Judd 1960-1991, 1991, p. 162) Within the present work, the rich blue Plexiglas aligns physically with the wall surface that serves as foundation for the sculpture’s overall form, suggesting a limitless void extending far beyond the gallery. A superb embodiment of the signature interplay of color, space and material that has come to define his extraordinary sculpture practice, Untitled serves as enduring testament to Judd’s unparalleled genius for harnessing such complexity through the most refined means.
“The box with the Plexiglas inside is an attempt to make a definitive second surface. The inside is radically different from the outside. Whilst the outside is definite and rigorous, the inside is indefinite.”