Text by Donald Judd
This catalogue is published on the occasion of the exhibition, Donald Judd, at the Kukje Gallery in 2014. The exhibition includes examples of his iconic series known as “Swiss boxes,” “progressions,” and “stacks,” in addition to a work initially conceived in the 1960s that Judd returned to in the 1990s. This work, untitled (1991), underlines the way formal themes and conceptual exploration ran in tandem, inspiring the artist to continually challenge and reinvestigate his oeuvre over the course of his more than forty-year career.
From the early 1960s until his death in 1994, Donald Judd developed a unique art practice that fundamentally changed twentieth-century art history. Although widely identified with Minimalism, Donald Judd strongly objected to this term as being overly general and a misinterpretation of his philosophy. Instead, Judd coined the term “specific objects” to describe the importance of making simple objects that made a clear and powerful statement.
To accomplish his ideal Judd created work that explored basic geometrical forms and utilized unique but everyday materials. Throughout his life’s work Judd used industrial materials such as plywood, steel, concrete, Plexiglas, and aluminum, choosing them both for their structural characteristics and their rich surface qualities. In addition, the artist used professional fabricators whose expertise with their chosen medium allowed Judd to create extremely refined objects—a level of mastery of materials that has led many to emphasize their perfect or industrially made appearance. This tension between object and maker is precisely the clarity of purpose that inspired Judd and allowed him to develop an incredibly sophisticated practice where an object’s volume, surface, and interior and exterior spaces all acted in concert to create a “specific object” that was not beholden to symbolic inference.
Hugely influential during his lifetime, Donald Judd’s importance has only grown since his death. Included in major museum and private collections around the world, Judd has been the subject of almost continuous study, revolutionizing the views of not only artists and architects but curators and collectors. During his lifetime exhibitions were held at The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1968, 1988); The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1975); Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands (1987); and The Saint Louis Art Museum (1991), among others. More recent exhibitions have taken place at The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, Japan (1999); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2001); and Tate Modern, London (2004). Judd’s work can be found in prestigious collections including the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain, London; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and many others. Permanent installations of the artist’s work can be found at Judd Foundation spaces at 101 Spring Street in New York City, and in Marfa, Texas, as well as the neighboring Chinati Foundation. These superlative locations showcase how Judd believed art should be exhibited: permanently and with profound respect to the artist’s original intentions.