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Definition: Judd, Donald from Chambers Biographical Dictionary


US artist

Born in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, he studied at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia (1948-49), Columbia University (1949-53) and at the Art Students' League, New York (1947-48, 1950-53), and had his first one-man show in New York in 1964. A Minimalist, he has metal boxes manufactured to his specification, spray-painted one colour and stood or stacked on the floor, thus creating works with which he has had only "minimal" contact, and which are deliberately non-imitative, non-expressive and not "composed" in any traditional sense, such as Untitled (1980).

Summary Article: Judd, Donald (1928–1994)
from Encyclopedia of the Sixties: A Decade of Culture and Counterculture

Born in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, on June 3, 1928. Donald Judd graduated from Westwood High School in Westwood, New Jersey, in June 1946 and enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served in Korea in the Army Corps of Engineers and was honorably discharged in November 1947. Judd studied at Columbia University and received a bachelor of science in Philosophy. He began exhibiting paintings in the mid-1950s in New York. Judd's first solo show at the Panoras Gallery in New York included abstract paintings derived from landscapes. He worked as an art critic, writing reviews of exhibitions for Art News, Art International, and Arts Magazines. These articles document his engagement with the contemporary art world of New York City in the 1960s, and his reviews include discussion of an enormous range of artists. In the early 1960s, Judd began expanding his definition of painting to include a broad range of materials as canvases, leading to his expression of color and form in sculpture. The dimensional qualities of Judd's pieces and his concern for the expression of the essential nature of the materials he selected resulted in sculptural objects, although he did not identify himself as a sculptor.

While Judd is frequently classified as a minimalist, he did not embrace that term. His philosophy of art, articulated through his writings as and demonstrated in his objects and their installations, hinges on the relationship between the object and the space it occupies and how the viewer experiences the entire environment. In 1962, Judd began exploring color and form off the canvas, focusing on the placement of materials and their relationship to each other. He incorporated industrial materials such as Plexiglas, brushed aluminum, and stainless steel. Placing his works of art on the floor rather than on pedestals became part of Judd's aesthetic in terms of valuing the essential nature of the materials and the object as part of the interaction with the exhibition space.

His work was widely exhibited in the United States, Canada, and Europe, with over 50 individual or group museum and gallery exhibitions that are documented in significant catalogues. His artworks are in permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Offentliche Kunstsammlung Basel, Kunstmuseum, and the Tate in London, as well as in collections of private owners.

In his later years, Judd created a refuge for himself and his art on a ranch in a remote part of West Texas. A catalogue raisonné of his work is under development by the Judd Foundation, which also oversees the permanently installed living and working spaces, libraries, and archives in New York and Marfa, Texas. Judd died in New York City on February 12, 1994.

  • Haskell, Barbara. Donald Judd. Whitney Museum of American Art New York, 1988.
  • Judd, Donald. Complete Writings 1959-1975: Gallery Reviews, Book Reviews, Articles, Letters to the Editor, Reports, Statements, Complaints. Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design Halifax, NS, 2005.
  • Serota, Nicholas, ed. Donald Judd. D.A.P. New York, 2004.
  • Feind, Rebecca S.
    Copyright 2012 by James S. Baugess and Abbe Allen DeBolt

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