- Donald Judd
Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007
London, Dominique Lévy Gallery, Local History, October 2014 - January 2015
Hong Kong, Gagosian Gallery, jiān, November 2016 - January 2017
By the mid-1960s Judd had switched from painting to sculpture, and had begun taking an interest in architecture. Eventually he shunned the idea of traditional art forms entirely, instead preferring to think in three-dimensional terms that endorsed the work of art as a whole. In his breakthrough treatise of 1965 entitled ‘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: “It isn’t necessary for a work to have a lot of things to look at, to compare, to analyse one by one, to contemplate. The thing as a whole, its quality as a whole, is what is interesting. The main things are alone and are more intense, clear and powerful. They are not diluted by an inherited format, variations of a form, mild contrasts and connecting parts and areas” (Donald Judd, ‘Specific Objects’, 1965, reprinted in: Exh. Cat., Bielefeld, Kunsthalle Bielefeld (and travelling), Donald Judd: Early Work 1955–1968, 2002, p. 94). In the works that were to follow Judd began abiding by a strict conceptual premise articulated via a discrete vocabulary of three-dimensional forms and materials. Within this self-imposed formal economy Judd created a wealth of works, or ‘specific objects’, that he placed directly on the floor or the wall. The earliest works were singular and freestanding box-like forms constructed of wood or metal; thereafter, as his explorations into space became more complex, Judd began to devise ways to complicate the simplicity of the whole by introducing repeated sequences and rows, introducing space itself as a defining component for his work’s design.
By the 1970s, Judd had increased the scale, complexity, and variety of his aesthetic investigations. Having rejected the concept of the handmade in the early 1960s, he began to employ fabricators, such as the Bernstein Brothers in Queens and later Alu Menziken in Switzerland, to eliminate any trace of the artist’s hand. Judd chose industrial materials such as steel, copper, plexiglass and aluminium to create the precise and flawless forms of his sculptures. Herein, Untitled exemplifies Judd’s project to eliminate illusion in art through the creation of material objects of elemental force, coexistent within their surrounding space. The two units of aluminium and blue acrylic, evenly positioned on the wall, exhibit Judd’s mounting emphasis on issues of site and presentation within a created space. With divider variations across the front of each unit, Untitled elegantly expands Judd’s premise on spatial relations and asserts his genius for affecting subtle effects and modulations in colour and light.