Judd hated the word minimalism as a description for his work and the work of other artists who he regarded as peers or colleagues and this piece in a sense destroys anyone’s conception that minimalism is about very simple forms in single materials with no colour, no sensuousness and so on. By the mid-80s Judd was really beginning to fire on all cylinders in terms of wanting to explore not just the materials but also colour in its full range of possibilities, and he found himself in Switzerland, noticed that there was a process being applied there to put colour onto metal material, I mean literally office furniture, and adapted this process for his own use. So he had a series of aluminium panels coated with enamel paint and then he progressively organised them, in very very simple ways, I mean the piece behind me with sections that are 30cm and 60cm combined in simple combinations, taking a very limited range of colours but then permuting them through both the front surface, the bottom, the top, giving this sense of colour permeating the whole object, but then combining to produce very unexpected effects.
When we think about the history of sculpture, of course there are moments of polychrome, whether it’s in the medieval period or indeed in the late 19th century. But 20th century sculpture is always regarded as monochromatic, I mean whether it’s in bronze or whether it’s later in steel, generally speaking colour is not a feature of 20th century sculpture. Of course there are exceptions, one thinks of Tony Caro’s painted steel pieces, but Judd is a painter and he brings a painter’s sensibility to the use of colour in sculpture, and I think that’s one of his great contributions to the development of sculpture in the period. So we see here an artist who has used colour in his painting, then in a certain sense used colour through the combination of different materials which are self-coloured, and then finally rather like Mondrian, in his last years bursting into an exploration of all the chromatic possibilities and combinations.