DONALD JUDD (1928-1994)
DONALD JUDD (1928-1994)
DONALD JUDD (1928-1994)
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DONALD JUDD (1928-1994)
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Please note that at our discretion some lots may b… Read more
DONALD JUDD (1928-1994)


DONALD JUDD (1928-1994)
stamped 'DONALD JUDD 86 - 28 © ALUMINIUM AG MENZIKEN SCHWEIZ' (on the reverse)
clear anodized aluminum with red Plexiglass
10 x 45 x 10in. (25.4 x 114.3 x 25.4cm.)
Executed in 1986
GalerÍa Marga Paz, Madrid.
Private Collection, Portugal.
Anon. sale, Christie’s New York, 15 November 2012, lot 536.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Special notice

Please note that at our discretion some lots may be moved immediately after the sale to our storage facility at Momart Logistics Warehouse: Units 9-12, E10 Enterprise Park, Argall Way, Leyton, London E10 7DQ. At King Street lots are available for collection on any weekday, 9.00 am to 4.30 pm. Collection from Momart is strictly by appointment only. We advise that you inform the sale administrator at least 48 hours in advance of collection so that they can arrange with Momart. However, if you need to contact Momart directly: Tel: +44 (0)20 7426 3000 email:
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

Created in 1986, the present wall work stems from Donald Judd’s Menziken series, which stand among the artist’s most compelling explorations of colour, space and surface. Each work in the group—named after the Swiss metal fabricators Alu Menziken AG, to whom Judd outsourced their manufacture—consists of a horizontal aluminium box in the same 10 x 45 x 10-inch dimensions. They vary in the position and number of their internal dividers; in the proportion of the frontal surface that is open or closed; and in the colour of their Plexiglas backings, which sit flush with the wall. The present work’s interior is a gleaming scarlet, visible through three open sections of different widths. Its central opening is a perfect square. An aluminium facing encloses a large portion of the box’s right-hand side, while the left-most section is open to a wider view. With its pristine, hard-edged and mechanically fabricated surface, the work exemplifies the qualities of Judd’s Minimalist ‘specific objects’, which elide any trace of narrative, illusion, or the artist’s hand. Instead, visual experience is engaged in real space and time: the Plexiglas casts a red radiance on the interior as it bounces back light from the surrounding environment, while a complex, ever-changing play of shadow, depth and glossy reflection shifts with the viewer’s own physical perspective.

‘Half or more of the best new work in the last few years’, Judd declared in 1965, ‘has been neither painting nor sculpture. Usually it has been related, closely or distantly, to one or the other … The use of three dimensions is an obvious alternative. It opens to anything … Actual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint on a flat surface’ (D. Judd, ‘Specific Objects’, Arts Yearbook 8, 1965). Taking industrial metals, plastics and wood as his media, and working within an austere formal vocabulary of boxes and modular stacks—either wall-mounted, or standing on the floor—he continued to employ ‘actual space’ in a variety of orientations, scales and volumes over the following three decades. Plexiglas was one of Judd’s favoured materials. With colour contained in its hard, flat plane, it elides the need for any painterly application of pigment, and creates vivid perceptual effects through its translucent and reflective properties. As Dietmar Elger has noted, ‘It is available in an almost endless variety of factory-made colours, and can, in addition, be opaque or transparent, dull, intensely glowing or even fluorescent’ (D. Elger, ‘Introduction (to Don Judd, Colorist’, in Donald Judd, Colorist, exh. cat. Sprengel Museum, Hanover 2000, p. 21).

Judd often used Plexiglas to ‘open up’ his boxes, effectively placing a tinted lens over their interiors. In the Menziken works, however, he aimed for a greater separation between the works’ internal and external faces. ‘The box with the Plexiglas inside is an attempt to make a definitive second surface’, he said. ‘The inside is radically different from the outside. Whilst the outside is definite and rigorous, the inside is indefinite’ (D. Judd in conversation with J. Coplans, in Donald Judd: Selected Works 19601991, exh. cat. Saitama Museum of Modern Art, Saitama 1999, p. 162). Indeed, the present work’s opaque, matt aluminium contrasts strongly with the reflective lustre, glows and shadows of the Plexiglas lining. Its volumetric layout encourages intimate inspection, transforming what might read head-on as a painting of sequential panels into a three-dimensional experience. The viewer is invited to peer round the shielding partitions to see further within, uncovering new optical intrigues with their every movement in space. For Judd, who saw his works as autonomous and self-defining, such marvels could be achieved without storytelling: the communion between viewer and object is magic and mystery enough.

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