Donald Judd: Exhibition Guide: Room 1

Donald Judd Untitled 1961

Donald Judd
Untitled 1961

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum,New York, Gift of Mr and Mrs Leo Castelli, 1972 
© Donald Judd Foundation/VAGA,New York and DACS, London 2004

Judd’s early ambition was to be a painter. Between 1948 and 1960 he worked exclusively in two dimensions, gradually moving from figurative works into increasingly abstract pieces.

By 1960 he had removed all trace of representation from his paintings and had reduced them to a few bold elements. These paintings show early traces of ideas that Judd would develop throughout his career. Judd had begun to focus on the physical properties of the work itself, mixing sand into the paint in Untitled 1961 to give the picture plane a palpable presence.

The mathematical precision of later works is prefigured, perhaps surprisingly, in Untitled 1961, in which a white line wanders apparently at random across a blue ground: the line meets the top and bottom edges exactly one third of the way across the canvas. In this work, the depth of the canvas is defined by the actual depth of a baking pan incorporated into the centre. Similarly, the proportions of Untitled1962 are determined by the dimensions of a Plexiglas letter, turned on its side and inset into the canvas.