DONALD JUDD (1928-1994)
DONALD JUDD (1928-1994)
DONALD JUDD (1928-1994)
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A Life Among Art: The Collection of Ruth Miles Pite
DONALD JUDD (1928-1994)


DONALD JUDD (1928-1994)
stamped 'JUDD 86-8 WORK EXECUTED BY Lippincott NORTH HAVEN CONN' (on the reverse)
aluminum with green Plexiglas
10 x 40 x 10 in. (25.4 x 101.6 x 25.4 cm.)
Executed in 1986.
Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1986

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Allison Immergut
Allison Immergut Associate Vice President, Specialist, Co-Head of Day Sale

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Lot Essay

That artworks are real objects in space—not just two-dimensional illusions of space—was fundamental to Donald’s Judd artistic philosophy. Especially in his late career, Judd sought to create what he called ‘specific objects:’ things that exist in their own right and do not attempt to represent anything outside of themselves. Judd vehemently rejected the illusionistic traditions of Western art, instead exploring the possibilities of material and color in creating a connection with the viewer. The present untitled work from 1986 is evidence of Judd finding his mature style. It is an intimate work, inviting for closer inspection and contemplation. There is no narrative suggestion or figuration in this work, forcing the viewer to focus on elements they might overlook in other works of art: the color, the materials, the light reflecting off of it, and the process by which it was made.

“Color is like material. It is one way or another, but it obdurately exists. Its existence as it is, is the main fact and not what it might mean, which may be nothing. Or rather, color does not connect alone to any of the several states of the mind. ...Color, like material, is what art is made from.” Donald Judd

The present work is a rectilinear box, hung flush against the wall with interior dividers. It is made of pristine aluminum and glossy, emerald-green Plexiglas lining the back. The work is mechanically fabricated, but Judd denied any industrial connotations. Instead, he wanted to remove any sense of the artist’s hand, directly contrary to the doctrine of the Abstract Expressionism group of the previous generation. Artists, such as Jackson Pollock, sought above all to show their physical involvement in creating the work—each brush and splatter of paint is decipherable as a decision of the artist.

Judd removed this entirely from his work, but not in the same way as the painters of Academic Classism who sought to remove the evidence of brushwork in order to create a convincing illusion of space. In this work, the viewer is engaged not by a window into another reality, but grounded in the present time and place. The edges cast angular shadows and the green Plexiglas emanate a verdant, ambient glow. All of these elements twist and dance as the viewer moves.

Beginning his career as a painter left Judd with a profound belief in the power of color. Though he denies any emotional intentions in his choice of color, he does use color effectively to draw attention to the masterful execution of the construction and complement the neutrality of the aluminum. Another artist who uses color in this way is the Minimalist painter Frank Stella.
The present work from the last decade of Judd’s life is an impeccable example of the artist’s skill for creating thought-provoking designs that push the boundaries of art theory. Fundamentally, works of art are just objects in space. Donald Judd is able to strip these objects down to their basic form, and still create an engaging experience for the viewer.

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