Please note this work has been requested for the forthcoming exhibition Donald Judd - The Multicolored Works that will take place at The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis, Missouri from 10 May 2013 - 4 January 2014
'Material, space, and color are the main aspects of visual art. Everyone knows that there is material that can be picked up and sold, but no one sees space and color. Two of the main aspects of art are invisible; the basic nature of art is invisible. The integration of visual art is not seen' (D. Judd, quoted by D. Elger (Ed.), Donald Judd. Colorist, exh. cat., Ostfildern-Ruit, 2000, unpaged).
'Take a simple form, say a box - and it does have an order, but it's not so ordered that that's the dominant quality. The more parts a thing has, the more important order becomes, and finally it becomes more important than anything else' (D. Judd, quoted in B. Glaser, 'Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Frank Stella: New Nihilism or New Art?,' J. Meyer (ed.), Minimalism, London 2000, p. 199).
Vividly coloured and extending nearly two metres in length, Untitled (84-19) is one of the earliest and most commanding of Donald Judd's chromatic wall pieces. Executed in 1984, Untitled (84-19) is an elegant embodiment of the artist's self-proclaimed ambition to fully unify the three main elements of art-material, colour and space. Boldly extending from the wall, the richly toned hues of crimson red, raspberry, canary yellow and rich earthen browns radiate and reverberate, humming with an optical energy. Representing a conceptual and aesthetic departure from the works created prior to 1984 where Judd's use of colour had been restricted to the inherent colours of the raw industrial materials that he had used in his iconic metal and Plexiglas pieces, in Untitled (84-19), we see a marked progression from this trajectory. With Judd's introduction of a multiplicity of tonal values into his structures, he began to explore both the physical and aesthetic properties of different colour combinations. In both the work's physical form and vibrant chromatic intensity, the saturated hues exemplify these distinctive sculptural explorations that Judd was engaged in and contributes to the arresting physical presence of Untitled (84-19).
Embodying the reductive purity of Judd's intellectual practice, Judd selected colours with reverential care and attention, methodically choosing and placing them in harmonious or opposing pairs depending on their tonal value. Judd realised the progressions in two distinct patterns: either leaving them in the original configuration, as he has done in the case of Untitled (84-19), or rotating them around their original axis in a pattern repeated throughout the composition to reveal a new placement perspective. The progression of metallic boxes open themselves up to the viewer, revealing their interiority. As such Judd produces an all-round sculpture, one in which all aspects are presented as being equal and destroying the frontal primacy of traditional wallbased art, such as painting.
Pulsing with chromatic intensity, Untitled (84-19) clearly expresses Judd's belief in both the optical and expressive power of colour. 1984 is regarded as the height of his work in this particular colour range. Judd seems to have been particularly interested in the warmer tonal range in Untitled (84-19), as evident in the multitude of reds and neighbouring yellows through the colour range to burnished orange and rich sonorous purple. In 1916, the Spanish Expressionist painter Johannes Itten wrote about the physical properties of colour in art: 'Form is also color. Without color there is no form. Form and color are one'. This statement reconciled with Judd's own views and in 1993, just a year before his death, he concluded that, 'It never occurred to me to make a three dimensional work without color. I took Itten's premise, which I had not read, for granted... Color is like material. It is one way or another, but it obdurately exists. Its existence as it is the main fact and not what it might mean, which may be nothing... No immediate feeling can be attributed to color. Nothing can be identified. If it seems otherwise, usually the association is cultural, for example, the light blue and white, supposedly the colors of peace, of the cops and the United Nations. If there were an identifiable feeling to red or to red and black together they would not be useable to me... Color, like material, is what art is made from. It alone is not art. Itten confused the components for the whole. Other than the spectrum, there is no pure color' (D. Judd, 'Some Aspects of Color in General and Red and Black in Particular' 1993, in D. Elger (ed.), Donald Judd. Colorist, exh. cat., Ostfildern-Ruit 2000, pp. 110-14).
Judd's celebrated series of chromatic wall pieces began in the summer of that year when the artist was commissioned to create an outdoor work for an exhibition in Merian Park in Basel, Switzerland. Judd decided to seek out a local fabricator who would be able to make the work to his exact specifications as a solution to the cost of transporting the work from the United States. Resulting from his, Judd began working with the Lehni Company, a furniture manufacturer in Dübendorf east of Zürich, which was able to bend sheets of aluminium and enamel them in various colours selected with Judd's exacting eye from the commercial RAL paint chart.
'Take a simple form,' Judd once said, 'Say a box - and it does have an order, but it's not so ordered that that's the dominant quality. The more parts a thing has, the more important order becomes, and finally it becomes more important than anything else' (D. Judd quoted in B. Glaser, 'Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Frank Stella: New Nihilism or New Art?,' J. Meyer (ed.), Minimalism, London 2000, p. 199). Judd clearly adhered to this belief in Untitled (84-19), where the ordered elements, the repeated forms, the regular placing of each part, and the exacting combinations of colour, imply an order that has the potential to continue ad infinitum. Above all, it is the relationship between these coloured parts and spaces that becomes important, the parts coming together to create an all the more significant whole.