Donald Judd A simple three dimensional (3-D) cube, circle, or rectangle you may ask how could this possibly be a work of art. Some artists don’t follow the traditional interests of expression that are elicited from painting with paint brushes. Different mediums help to create different experiences for both the artist and the viewer. Artists such as Donald Judd take a different approach to their work and look to create something new. To appreciate and understand Donald Judd’s “Untitled (blue)” you must first learn about the art movement Minimalism.
Most people are unaware of Donald Judd and his work, and the people who may know about his work don’t understand it or why he does what he does. As quoted by Donald Judd “… I didn’t want to get into something which is played out and narrow. I want to do as I like, invent my own interests. Of course, that doesn’t mean that people who, like other artists, still paint are worn out. But I think thats a particular kind of experience involving a certain immediacy between you and the canvas, you and the particular kind of experience of the particular moment.
I think what I’m trying to deal with is something more long range than that in a way, more obscure perhaps, more involved with things that happen over a longer time perhaps. At least it’s another area of experience” (Donald). This quote helps to explain Judd’s philosophy towards his work however, several critics say his work is too minimal or is missing something. Many say his art is too simple or boring. After reading this paper you will finally know the importance behind Donald Judd and his work.
Influenced by abstract expressionism the Minimalism movement started during the 1960’s in New York and Los Angeles (Little 138). This movement was full of artists with similar goals and beliefs in art such as Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Anne Truitt, Carl Andre, and Robert Morris. Coined by the art philosopher Richard Wollheim, the term “minimalism” was used to describe artwork that is highly simplified or austere (Deller). Minimalists works are often composed of multiple, uniform elements such as bricks, blocks, or sections of tubular lighting (Little 138).
Donald Judd was one of the most famous leaders of this minimalism movement. The artists of this movement believed that they didn’t need to paint the traditional realistic picture in order to get an emotion from the viewer. Judd’s work perfectly resembles the description of minimalism, he repetitively uses basic forms of squares, rectangles, or circles to arouse certain emotions (Little 138). Judd used the phrase ecific object” meaning an artwork which was neither painting nor sculpture but composed of self-sufficient elements, each of which could exist independently (Little 138).
Donald Judd disliked the word minimalism in describing his work because he thought it implied that something was missing. On the contrary, Judd believed that by removing the problem of illusion and incorporating industrialised, machine-made materials the artist could create a physical presence that would result in greater thoughtfulness by the viewer. The minimalist movement would not have been the same without Donald Judd and his interesting views on art. Minimalism was a huge part of Donald Judd’s life and his career and had an enormous impact on many people.
Donald Judd was born on June 3, 1928 in Excelsior Springs, Missouri (Rugoff 313). He spent most of his childhood in the midwest living with his grandparents before they moved to New Jersey. He graduated from Westwood High School in Westwood New Jersey. After High School he served in the U. S. Army in Korea. After the Army Donald Judd attended the College of William and Mary, The Art Students League in New York, and Columbia University where he received a Bachelor of Science in Philosophy.
Between 1959 and 1965, he supported himself by writing criticism articles for major art magazines such as Art News. Judd enjoyed experimenting with different materials for his artwork. During this time he also tried to align himself with other artists whose work also used non-traditional materials such as John Chamberlain, Jasper Johns, and Dan Flavish. From 1962 through 1964, he worked as an instructor at Brooklyn College (Donald). He married Julie Finch in 1964 and had two children Flavin and Rainer Judd and then later divorced Julie Finch (Smith).
During the 70’s Judd worked on large and complex pieces incorporating hollow boxes made of steel or copper, often colored with an enameled surface on the inside, which he placed directly on the floor. This manner of exhibiting art work broke with tradition and enabled Judds art work to form part of the environment thereby demanding to be experienced as part of the viewers existence. In his later years, he also designed furniture whose simplicity echoed his own sculptures (Smith). When he got older he moved to a town called Marfa, in a remote part of West Texas (Donald).
On February 12, 1994 in New York the great artist Donald Judd died of Lymphoma at age 65 (Donald). His work is now widely exhibited in the U. S. Canada, and Europe, with over 50 individual or group museums and gallery exhibitions (Feind). Donald Judd was very serious when it came to his work. He worked very hard and because of this his art career blossomed and he became more famous and better at his art. Like most artists Donald Judd’s art career had many ups and downs. Judd actually started out as a painter in the 1940’s and then started wood cutting in the mid 1950’s (Donald).
His ideas about art developed in a period when American artists were intensely involved in rethinking the fundamentals of art (Modern). It wasn’t until the 1960’s when he started focusing on 3-D forms and working with 3-D shapes in order to evoke a particular kind of experience in the moment. This was the beginning of ludd’s career in minimal art and the start of his favorite and most famous art pieces. Although it was difficult for him as an artist to continue creating minimal art because most people didn’t appreciate or understand it, Judd had many successes hroughout his career. He entered in several art shows with his first solo show at the Panoras Gallery in New York (Feind). Throughout the 60’s and 70’s he was awarded numerous grants and awards from such institutions as the national Endowment for the arts, the John Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the Swedish Institute (Donald).
By establishing the Chinati Foundation, Judd established a space that now serves as a museum, artist residency, and research center (Donald). Judd’s writings are, to this day, seen as the most comprehensive statement of minimalists art; his work both defined a new lexicon of sculptural concerns and contributed to a revised notion of the process of beholding”(Donald). Donald Judd’s work is unlike anyone else’s. To truly understand the meaning behind Judd’s work you have to look much deeper than just what you see. It has nothing to do with popular culture or romance like other artists but has everything to do with the relationship between the object and the space it occupies and how the viewer experiences the total environment.
He rejected both traditional painting and sculpture in order to express his philosophy of art. He is quoted with saying “It takes a great deal of time and thought to install work correctly. Most art is fragile and some should be placed and never moved again. Somewhere a portion of contemporary art has to exist as an example of what the art and its context were meant to be. Somewhere, just as the platinum iridium meter guarantees the tape measure, a strict measure must exist for the art of this time and place”(Donald).
This philosophy helped give American art a new foundation and a place in history. Donald Judd significantly contributed to this new minimal movement and is most famous for his sculptures of Cubes and Rectangles. He began creating his famous Boxes around 1963 (Rugoff). Judd used industrialized materials to give his work an impersonal factory aesthetic (Donald). “His alterations of these basic volumes continually affect and reshape one another by pitting the relative against the actual, the symmetrical against the asymmetrical and logical against the arbitrary” (Smith).
The boxes that he created achieved a geometric severity that avoided both the personal rhetoric of abstract expressionism and idealized purity of constructivism (Rugoff). When you go to see Judd’s work in a museum you are not allowed to touch it. It’s impossible to put your head between any two boxes and look straight up and down which means the sculptures cannot be fully seen or known (Brenson). This leaves a sense of imagination for the viewer. Donald Judd became recognized for his sculptures which redefined the fundamentals of American art.
Every aspect including concept, materials, and environment were explored and reformed to create a new expression of art. One of his early minimal sculptures can be found at the Joslyn Art Museum located in Omaha Nebraska. Like most of his sculptures the sculpture at the Joslyn does not have a title. The title that most people call it is “Untitled (blue)”, because the rectangular boxes are made of brass and are painted blue in this sculpture. Judd created this sculpture in November 1964 and this was the first example in metal that involved a horizontal square tube that was so prominent in his later years (Modern).
Under the square tube there are five long blue rectangular shapes. This particular sculpture is not one of Donald Judd’s famous works but it is recognized as one of the first modern and contemporary minimal art works of it’s time. It is a popular viewed sculpture at the Joslyn Art Museum. Donald Judd’s work will always be viewed and enjoyed for many people in the future. Donald Judd’s life and career had a huge impact on the minimalist movement and how it affected the art world. Without Donald Judd the minimalist movement would not have been the same.
Many critics, both pro and con, frequently remarked on the moral integrity of his work, as well as the beauty of his unadorned surfaces, calling him an “exquisite minimalist” (Smith). This directly influenced conceptual art and provides greater breadth of expression for future artists. Now when you go to the Joslyn Art Museum you can appreciate and understand the message that Donald Judd was trying to communicate through his “Untitled (blue)” art piece. Even though Donald Judd is no longer with us we can still enjoy and appreciate all of his artwork. His sculptures will forever be cherished by many people for generations to come.