Tate Modern Level 4
5 February – 25 April 2004
A major survey of the work of Donald Judd (1928–1994), one of the most influential artists of his time, opens at Tate Modern on 5 February 2004. The exhibition will be the first full retrospective of Donald Judd’s sculptures and coincides with the tenth anniversary of his death.
Donald Judd first came to public attention in the mid 1960s as one of a group of American artists who were referred to as ‘Minimalists’ including Carl Andre, Dan Flavin and Sol LeWitt. These sculptors shared an interest in abstract forms, industrial materials and machine production. Judd’s essay, Specific Objects, published in 1965, is widely considered the seminal exposition of their groundbreaking approach to making art.
In 1968 Judd purchased 101 Spring Street in New York City where he developed his ideas about installed space and the nature of the studio. He lived, worked and continued to refine 101 Spring Street until his death. In 1971 Judd began living part-time in Marfa, Texas and began to acquire a number of buildings there. In the late 1970s the Dia Foundation became Judd’s partner on a substantial permanent installation project located in a former Army base on the edge of town. In 1986 the properties were transferred to the ownership of the Chinati Foundation. In Marfa he designed furniture and modified buildings to complement his sculptures, and displayed his paintings, prints and drawings along with the work of artists he admired.
Judd’s sculpture is both elegantly austere and surprisingly sensual. Arranged along the wall, across the floor, or rising in stacks, his severely rectilinear works have a powerful, physical and optical presence and incorporate the space around them. At the time of his death in 1994, the New York Times observed ‘By the late 1960s, his sleek cubic and rectilinear works had helped redefine the direction of postwar sculpture’. To the surprise of some, from the mid-eighties vibrant colour played an increasing part in his work and he is now seen as an important colourist.
The exhibition includes around forty works, and is a full retrospective of Judd’s sculptures. It begins with a remarkable series of paintings and handmade works from the early 1960s showing Judd’s progression from two into three dimensions, and illustrates his development of a new vocabulary of sculptural form. The exhibition then explores Judd’s characteristic factory-made floor and wall-based works of the 1960s and 1970s made from a wide-range of industrial materials such as galvanised iron, steel, plexiglas and plywood, and polished copper. The exhibition moves through the 1980s with a series of highly coloured wall pieces of bolted aluminium, and ends with his final colourful plywood and plexiglas sculpture from 1993.
The exhibition is curated by Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate, with advice from Marianne Stockebrand, Curator and Director of the Chinati Foundation. It benefits from their personal and professional relationship with the artist and his oeuvre. The exhibition will travel to K20 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf from 19 June – 5 September 2004 and to Kunstmuseum Basel from 2 October 2004 – 9 January 2005. The exhibition is organised with the support of the Judd Foundation founded by the artist to manage the studios, archives and rights for Judd’s work. It is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue (288pp hb £40, pb £29.99) that includes essays by Nicholas Serota, Rudi Fuchs, Richard Shiff, David Raskin and David Batchelor and catalogue entries by Marianne Stockebrand.