Having not used more than two different colors in any of his works from 1960-1984, the bold combination of blood orange, saffron yellow, strawberry red and turquoise blue in Untitled is indicative of Judd’s insatiable appetite for vibrant hues articulating the material surface in the final decade of his life. Nearly thirty years before the creation of Untitled, color and the variation of the value of color was Judd’s central fascination while painting on two-dimensional surfaces. It was during this period, in the 1960s, where Judd began to rupture the surface of his paintings to give them actual depth, eventually creating volumetric objects that occupied space. The multicolored works represent a poignant homecoming to painting for Judd, who had set aside his brush some twenty years earlier in shifting from planar to spatial creations. The sharp hues blended pristinely into the glistening sheets of aluminum in Untitled, representing the zenith of a burgeoning color palette as Judd introduced “more diverse bright colors than before” in his later years. (Marianne Stockebrand, Donald Judd: The Multicolored Works, New Haven, 2014, p. 31)
The discrete visual vocabulary of Untitled is a precise articulation of ‘Specific Objects,’ Judd’s radical 1965 essay that conceptualized the construction of three-dimensional forms and materials, culminating with his rumination on color in his final essay published only months before his death. In reflecting on Untitled in his treatise on color, Judd argued that “Space is now a main aspect of present art, comparable only to color as a force.” (Donald Judd, Some Aspects of Color in General and Red and Black in Particular, 1993, p. 2) The organization of bright, contrasting colors in Untitled illuminates the artist’s fastidious process of combining colors, whereby cut out colored samples were arranged over and over until the object was unified and balanced as a singular principle. The inclusion of Untitled in the first exhibition devoted to multicolored objects at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis in 2014 highlights the sublime expression of the value of color in this masterwork. Untitled represents a careful fusion of two separate and distinct artistic practices, painting and sculpture, collapsing into a singularly exquisite narrative that transmits a profound intensity, clarity and identity.
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