Donald Judd ( American, 1928 - 1994 )

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General Description

This untitled, 1988 "stack" by Donald Judd embodies all the finest qualities of the artist's work: uncompromising literalness, lush materiality, and seductive color. In this work, Judd plays with the question of what essential elements make up a sculpture. Resolutely bypassing references to the outside world, Judd asserts that form and its place in space could be both the subject and the meaning of a work of art. Manufactured to his specifications, this repetitive vertical arrangement of six aluminum boxes is a true, no-nonsense sculpture, an art that refers to nothing but itself.

With its strict geometric forms and cool industrial surfaces, the work of Donald Judd and other artists experimenting with Minimalism appeared in the early 1960s as a challenge to both the art of its time and the history of sculpture. Here Judd affixed six symmetrically divided rectangular boxes to a wall to form a column over eighteen feet high. To enforce continuity and cohesion, he lined each box with pigmented Plexiglas and bisected it with a central dividing plane. Many saw Judd's sculpture as the logical, if bleak, final result of the revolution of abstraction that began in the early 20th century. Others described Judd's work as embodying the perfection of absolute geometry and creating order out of an increasingly disordered world. His sculpture has always depended on a dialogue between closed and open vistas, between concealment and revelation, between stasis and repetition, between solid and void, between an insistence on literalness and the knowledge that nothing can be entirely literal.

At first glance, Untitled, though composed of parts, is seen as an entire work with an uncanny immediacy. These and other aspects of Judd's art are brilliantly evident in the numerous large-scale, industrially forged works that Judd installed in the west Texas town of Marfa, particularly at Marfa's old army base. Judd's Marfa installations, like Dallas's Untitled, forcefully explore the physical and perceptual experience of space, presence, and viewer, and constitutes one of the most rigorous and profound treatments of sculpture in contemporary art.

Adapted from

  • Charles Wylie, "Untitled," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, ed. Charles Venable (New Haven, NJ: Yale University Press, 1997), 300.

  • Bonnie Pitman, ed., "Untitled (1990.137.a-f)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 330.

  • Charles Wylie, Celebrating Sculpture: Modern and Contemporary Works from Dallas Collections, 2003

  • Jeffrey Grove, DMA Gallery text, Variations on Theme: Contemporary Art 1950s - Present, 2012.

Fun Facts

  • This work can be installed with any number of units; the most important requirement is the space between the units. Per instructions of the Registrar at Paula Cooper Gallery, the space must be 50 cm.