‘Red is a sensation. It happens—here and now. ... When we sense the red of a surface, the experience is direct and constitutes an emotion in itself. To sense red is to be in an emotional state’ –Donald Judd
Extending nearly two and a half metres in width and vividly punctuated with precise chromatic forms, Donald Judd’s Untitled is a bold embodiment of the artist’s pioneering Minimalist language, unifying material, colour and space on an impressive scale. Executed in 1985, and held in the same private collection for the last thirty years, it is a significant early example of the celebrated polychromatic wall reliefs which he began the year before, marking a departure from his earlier use of raw industrial materials with restrictive palettes. The crimson red, white, black and grey forms pulse with optical energy, yet remain elegant and refined due to their perfectly fabricated clean lines and controlled symmetry. The colours and forms were meticulously selected by Judd and fabricated by Lehni AG, a Swiss furniture manufacturer, and methodically configured in harmonised opposing pairs of either red and white or black and grey, chosen from the RAL paint chart. Red was always the most significant colour for Judd, and held both highly personal and specific cultural connotations, especially when used in combination with black – as Judd wrote, ‘a pair of colours that I knew of as a child in Nebraska was red and black, which a book said was the “favourite” of the Lakota. In the codices of the Maya, red and black signify wisdom and are the colours of scholars’ (D. Judd, ‘Some aspects of colour in general and red and black in particular’, in Donald Judd Colorist, Ostfildern-Ruit 2000, p. 116).