David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of works by Donald Judd drawn from the artist's seminal 1989 exhibition held at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany. Brought together from international public and private collections, this will be the first time these particular works have been exhibited together in a group of this size since Judd's 1989 installation.
The exhibition, which will span both of the gallery’s spaces at 525 and 533 West 19th Street, will reflect the artist's intended clarity and rigor in its installation. These works comprise one of Judd's few explorations of color on a large scale using anodized aluminum and thus provide a focused investigation of the key concerns within Judd's practice.
This will be the gallery's inaugural exhibition of the artist's work since having announced its exclusive representation of Judd Foundation.
One of the most significant American artists of the post-war period, Donald Judd's oeuvre has come to define what has been referred to as Minimalist art–a label the artist strongly objected to. The unaffected, straightforward quality of Judd's work demonstrates his strong interest in color, form, material, and space. With the intention of creating work that could assume a direct material and physical ‘presence’ without recourse to grand philosophical statements, Judd eschewed the classical ideals of representational sculpture to create a rigorous visual vocabulary that sought clear and definite objects as its primary mode of articulation.
Judd began his practice as a painter in the late 1940s; however, he soon introduced three-dimensional elements into the surface of his work. His first sculptural objects took the form of shallow reliefs, and by 1963 he had begun to create freestanding works that were presented directly on the floor and the wall. Throughout his practice, Judd used materials such as plywood, steel, concrete, Plexiglas, and aluminum and employed commercial fabricators in order to get the surfaces and angles he desired. He created declaratively simple, fundamental sculptural forms, many of which took the shape of simple 'boxes' or 'stacks,' which he would often arrange according to repeated or sequential progressions.
Consisting of twelve identically scaled anodized aluminum works, the historic exhibition at the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden was significant in that it marked the first time Judd used colored anodized aluminum in such a large, floor-mounted format. Although he had previously examined the qualities of an open box form, the works created for Baden-Baden display a distinct systematic approach in determining the interior space of each box, which Judd divided vertically in different spatial configurations, sometimes introducing color through the use of anodized elements or sheets of Plexiglas in blue, black, or amber. The combinations of materials, dividers, and colors–which differ from box to box–thus determine the singular nature of each work within a finite number of variable possibilities; each of the boxes being an individual work that represents one possibility out of the given parameters.
These works demonstrate the artist's visionary approach to using industrial material as well as his considered attitude toward proportion and installation. They were designed not for the actual space at Baden-Baden, but in relation to each other and within the given framework of their design. Installed together, these artworks present a particularly unified experience of composition and space. For Judd, the placement of a color, panel, or, ultimately, a work, was always part of a larger context. The presentation of the boxes as a group allows for their unique spatial arrangements and colors to be apprehended by the viewer as a whole, while also emphasizing their relationship to the surrounding architectural environment. As such, the exhibition will provide a rare opportunity to experience a large-scale presentation of a single body of work by the artist.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue, to be published in collaboration with Steidl, Göttingen. The publication will include new scholarship on Judd by noted art historian Richard Shiff, in addition to archival material and re-printed interviews with the artist.