Donald Judd refined and minimized the lines and design of his work throughout his career. His early woodcut designs evolved into etchings, sculpture and furniture, all with his unmistakable style.
“You’re getting rid of the things that people used to think were essential to art,” he said, “But that reduction is only incidental. I object to the whole reduction idea … if my work is reductionist it’s because it doesn’t have the elements that people thought should be there. But it has other elements I like.”
Judd’s work with simple lines began in the 1950s, when he started, with great skill and patience, to create minimal designs using woodcuts. Judd was studying philosophy at Columbia University and painting at the Art Students League at the same time. It was at the Art Student’s League that he began to use woodcuts to explore working within a space to create design, rather than imposing design on a particular space.
… if my work is reductionist it’s because it doesn’t have the elements that people thought should be there. But it has other elements I like.” —Donald Judd
The arduous work of creating woodcuts with such exacting lines was eventually given over to Judd’s father, Roy, a skilled woodworker, in the 1960s. Roy Judd did the actual cutting of the woodblock after Judd created the design.
The progression and precision of Judd’s work, from print to sculpture, is obvious when viewing the chronology of his work.
Simple as it is, much of his work changes with the light, shadow and the angle at which it’s viewed. An example of this phenomenon is the Untitled, folded stainless multiple in our gallery, which Judd exhibited at the tenth anniversary celebration of the Leo Castelli gallery in Manhattan.
The exhibit showcased works by other artists represented by Leo Castelli, including Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and Frank Stella … American artists who broke traditional conventions and turned the eyes of the art world away from Europe and straight to the U.S.
Open Left, an etching that Judd did in 1980, exemplifies the sense of strength that is apparent in all of his design. “It isn’t necessary for a work to have a lot of things to look at, to compare, to analyze one by one, to contemplate,” Judd said, “The thing as a whole, its quality whole, is what is interesting. The main things are alone and are more intense, clear and powerful.”
Judd, was a master craftsman, not only in his print and sculpture, but also in the creation of furniture, which is still being sold today, through the Judd Foundation.
We welcome you to visit our gallery, to see the clarity and power of Donald Judd’s art.