Donald Judd (1928-1994)
Property from the Collection of Max Palevsky
Donald Judd (1928-1994)

Untitled, 1970 (DSS 217)

Donald Judd (1928-1994)
Untitled, 1970 (DSS 217)
brass and blue anondized aluminum
5 1/8 x 75 x 5 1/8 in. (13 x 190.5 x 13 cm.)
Executed in 1970. This work is number three from three examples.
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
Dr. A. Joseph, St. Louis
Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles
Acquired from the above by the late owner, 1981
D. Del Baso, R. Smith and B. Smith, Donald Judd: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Objects and Wood-Blocks 1960-1974, Ottawa, 1975, p. 214, no. 217 and p. 301, fig. 25 (illustrated).
New York, Leo Castelli Gallery, Summer Group Show, June-August 1970.

Lot Essay

Judd's first Progression dates from 1964 when he produced a small wall-mounted rectangular piece of wood with four rounded (also known as "bullnose") segments protruding from the face. Each segement was separated at intervals that "progressively" increase while the width of the segments "progressively" decrease. Although Judd had been making wall reliefs for a year, he felt this new form offered him endless possibilities. With Untitled, 1970 (DSS 217) Judd began to explore the fundamental relationship between the material presence of the work and the viewer by introducing a series of complex mathematical sequences into his sculptures. This increasingly sophisticated progression resulted in works, such as the present lot, which contain a physical manifestation of Judd's vision and theory.

Judd's Progressions are some of the earliest examples of the artist's industrially produced sculptures. He introduced his succession of alternating diminishing physical forms and increasing voids as part of his struggle against any form of representational reality. In a stark departure from the previous generation of Abstract Expressionist artists Judd negates the gestural and using a pre-determined mathematical formula presents the viewer a series of pure physical forms; nothing more, nothing less. Reading this sculpture from left to right, the steel blocks decrease by just under half their size, while the spaces between them do the same, but in reverse. The smallest space and the smallest solid have the same dimensions.

Judd was very much influenced by Barnett Newman and Yves Klein's innovative notions about space, as evident in Judd's use of blue throughout his oeuvre. Trained as a painter, the problems of color, texture and surface were always paramount in Judd's work, from his early paintings and throughout his sculpture. In the early 1960s, Judd turned away from the expressive brushstroke of Abstract Expressionism and his early paintings and by 1964, his sculpture was being industrially fabricated and painted; Untitled, 1970 (DSS 217) combines the yellow tones of polished brass along with the dazzling blue enamel. Unlike many of the Minimalist sculptors like Tony Smith, Richard Serra and Robert Morris, Judd embraced color-"Material, space and color are the main aspects of visual art" (D. Judd, quoted in Donald Judd: Colorist, Ostfildern-Ruit, 2000, p. 12).

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