Donald Judd



Not on display

Donald Judd 1928–1994
Steel, aluminium and perspex
Object: 229 × 1016 × 787 mm
Purchased 1980

Display caption

Judd began making stacks in the 1960s. Most consist of ten elements, although there is variation in the materials used. The stacks are all ordered according to strict principles: the gap between each unit, and between the first unit and the floor, should be equal to the height of a single unit. Since the units are all identical, their significance derives from this pre-determined geometric order rather than from any individual features. However, Judd’s attention to the sensuous qualities of his materials prevents Untitled from being cold or clinical.

Gallery label, October 2016

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Catalogue entry

T03087 UNTITLED 1980

Not inscribed, each unit stamped on back ‘JUDD/JO/Bernstein Bros. Inc./80–49’
Galvanised steel with aluminium reinforcements and inset blue perspex panels, 10 units, each 9 × 40 × 31 (23 × 101.6 × 78.8)
Purchased from the artist through the Lisson Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1980
Lit: Dudley Del Balso, Roberta Smith and Brydon Smith, Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Objects and Wood-Blocks, 1960–74, in exh. catalogue Donald Judd, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, May–June 1975

The letters DSS are an abbreviation of the surnames of the three contributors to the catalogue raisonné of Donald Judd's paintings and objects, published in 1975 (op.cit.). In this entry, DSS followed by a number indicates a work's number in the catalogue.

'Untitled’ 1980 (T03087) was made for Judd by Bernstein Bros., Long Island City, New York, a metalworking firm which has made objects to his specifications since 1964. The figures ‘80–49’ stamped on the back of each metal unit are an order number and indicate that this was ordered from Bernstein Bros. in 1980. The initials ‘JO’ are those of José Otero, a technician at Bernstein's who has made many of Judd's metal sculptures.

Donald Judd has produced similar arrangements of identical rectilinear metal units since 1965. These units, which are cantilevered off the wall at regular intervals, one above the other, are often referred to as ‘stacks’ and are made in two sizes. In the smaller versions, each unit measures 6 × 27 × 24in., and in the larger versions (for example, T03087) the dimensions of each unit are 9 × 40 × 31in.

With the exception of the first of these arrangements, a large galvanized iron ‘stack’ comprising seven five-sided boxes, completed in June 1965 (DSS 65), each ‘stack’ is composed of a minimum of ten units. A work refabricated in 1974 has 12 units (DSS 187). However, the number of units used in an installation is governed by the ceiling height of the exhibition space. When a ‘stack’ is correctly installed, the space between each unit and between the bottom unit and the floor, equals the height of an individual unit. In the case of large format ‘stacks’, like T03087, this is 9 inches. The space between the top unit and the ceiling should be no less than the height of one unit.

In an interview (‘Don Judd, an interview with John Coplans’ published in the catalogue Don Judd, Pasadena Art Museum, May–July 1971, p.23) the artist said that all his wall works, (vertical stacks, horizontal progressions and single boxes), developed from a work he made in 1963 (DSS 44). This was an untitled rectilinear work, cantilevered off the wall, measuring 5 3/8 × 32 5/8 × 5 1/4in., constructed from aluminium tube and painted wood. Here, for the first time, Judd broke out of a relief format (‘the narrowness and horizontality keep it away from the whole idea of painting’, op.cit., p.25).

The first ‘stack’ comprising 10 units and where the overall dimensions of the individual units correspond exactly with those of T03807 is DSS 78 a five-sided stack in galvanized iron, first made in 1966 and refabricated in 1968.

Judd first used perspex (or plexiglass) for a wall unit in 1965, when he made a single wall unit in galvanized iron, with a yellow perspex bottom (DSS 73). He first used perspex for a ‘stack’ (small format) in 1967 (DSS 93, 10 stainless steel units with green perspex).

Judd's first ‘stack’ with recessed front panels, comprising 10 stainless steel units with cadmium red enamel recessed fronts, was made in 1972 (DSS 270). He first used recessed perspex in another small format ‘stack’, DSS 305, which was constructed in stainless steel with amber perspex over grey enamel. Between January 1966 and July 1974, the cut-off date for the catalogue raisonné, Judd produced the following large format ‘stacks’:

DSS   78 galvanised iron, filled in, 11 January 1966, refabricated 19 February 1968
DSS 104 galvanised iron, green lacquer on front and sides, 27 January 1967 (8 units); Summer 1972 (2 units)
DSS 118 stainless steel and amber perspex, 2 examples:

    a) made 2 February 1968, refabricated 24 February 1971

    b) 30 August 1968

DSS 123 stainless steel and yellow perspex, two examples:

    19 February 1968

    20 February 1969

DSS 139 stainless steel and light blue perspex, 18 September 1968
DSS 140 stainless steel and green perspex, 25 September 1968
DSS 141 stainless steel and yellow fluorescent perspex, 3 October 1968
DSS 187 stainless steel and green perspex on sides and front, 10 units made 16 June 1969; refabricated with two extra units 12 December 1974
DSS 204 copper, 23 December 1969
DSS 208 stainless steel and blue perspex on sides and front, 9 January 1970
DSS 216 galvanized iron and amber perspex, 25 March 1970
DSS 220 blue anodized aluminium, 9 April 1970
DSS 222 stainless steel and violet perspex, 14 April 1970
DSS 229 stainless steel and red fluorescent perspex, 10 July 1970
DSS 239 clear anodized aluminium, 15 December 1970
DSS 289 stainless steel and red perspex on sides and front, 20 April 1973
DSS 306 cold-rolled steel, 12 November 1973.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984

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