Donald Judd 'Drawings: 1963-1977' May 22 - July 31, 2010

Emerging in the 1960s in New York, Judd became known as a major exponent of ‘Minimalism,’ a label he strongly rejected, preferring to describe his work as “the simple expression of complex thought.” The artist did not begin to produce mature, wholly distinctive works of art until shortly after his thirty-second birthday, in the summer of 1960. The years between 1963 and 1977 were his most fertile years, a period in which the artist established the formal dictum, which would guide and inform his work throughout his life. In these drawings, one can trace the trajectory of Judd’s thought processes as he found a starting point for the reinvention of American art. Here is the private and unself-conscious studio activity of thinking, observing, testing and recording, made available to the outside world. Many of these drawings were included in the mid-career retrospective organized by John Coplans at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1971 as well as the seminal Retrospective of Donald Judd Drawings, curated by Kieter Koepplin at the Hunstmuseum Basel in 1976.

Donald Judd’s legacy is that of simplicity, “all of art history pared down to the basic geometric module of a box made of industrial materials.” Judd’s desire was to make a distinct break from the tradition of European Art. He rejected the symbolism and emotive work of the abstract expressionists, based on free-wheeling use of color and gesture, and by introducing the use of industrial materials Judd developed a vocabulary of sculptural form, which remains unrivaled. Humble materials such as metals, industrial plywood, concrete and color-impregnated Plexiglas became staples of his career. The artist remained adamant that a sculpture fabricated in aluminum or galvanized steel, under his close supervision was no different than a cast bronze, by a more traditional artist. Most of his output was in freestanding ‘Specific Objects” (the name of his seminal essay published in Arts Yearbook in 1965 and exhibition of the same title at the Jewish Museum, 1965), that used simple, often repeated forms to explore space, and the use of space.

“My work has the appearance it has, wrongly called ‘objective’ and ‘impersonal', because my first and largest interest is in my relation to the natural world, all of it, all the way out. This interest includes my existence, a keen interest in the existence of everything and the space and time that is created by existing things. Art emulates this creation or definition by also creating, on a small scale, space and time.” -Donald Judd

Donald Judd (1928-1994) changed the course of modern sculpture.