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Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
David Allen Hanks, Chicago
The Estate of Milton Fischmann, St. Louis
Private Collection (by descent from the above)
Christie's, New York, May 12, 2015, lot 158
Private Collection, Europe
Pasadena, California, Pasadena Art Museum, Don Judd, May 11 - July 4, 1971, no. 34, p. 66, plate 25, p. 48 (illustrated)
Dudley Del Balso, Roberta Smith and Brydon Smith, Donald Judd: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Objects and Wood-Blocks 1960-1974, Ottawa, 1975, no. 107, p. 153 (illustrated)
Untitled from 1967 stretches almost six feet, composed of 10 rectangular elements which protrude at varying intervals from the wall. The projecting elements grow progressively smaller in length from left to right as the corresponding voids between these elements grow larger, giving the composition a balanced arrangement that is characteristic of the works from this series, aptly titled progressions. The mathematical underpinnings of his progressions allowed Judd, “to use an asymmetrical arrangement, yet to have some sort of order not involved in composition.” (Donald Judd quoted in John Coplans, "Interview with Don Judd," Don Judd, exh. cat., Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena, 1971, p. 41) Judd’s first of these wall sculptures was created in 1964, fabricated from wood and painted with a dark red lacquer, measuring only 25 ½ inches in length. Later that year, Judd abandoned wood as the support for his progressions and commissioned the industrial manufacturers, Bernstein Brothers to fabricate, larger, more monumental, pristine metal sculptures, as evident in the present lot.
In his 1965 essay “Specific Objects,” Judd explored the definition of art that is neither painting nor sculpture. Departing from his exploration into abstract painting of the early 1960s, Judd instead decided to pursue a distinct physical surface. By 1961 with the creation of his famous black painting, which holds a small, tin, baking pan in the center (Untitled in the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York), his paintings shifted towards the three dimensional, which he describes “objects in their own right.” This leap away from the tradition of painting led Judd to create objects like Untitled, rendered in his earliest, preferred medium of galvanized iron, the only metal which possesses an intrinsic natural pattern and the same material in which he would later execute his earliest vertical stacks. Coated in a blue lacquer, the natural grain of the iron in Untitled gives the surface an almost dappled effect as the blue paint interacts with the iron’s texture. Indeed, Judd was riveted by color theory, himself owning multiple copies of Josef Albers’ revolutionary publication, Interaction of Color. Seeking colors that highlighted the edges of his work, Judd’s choice of blue lacquer draws an art historical reference to the color and composition of Ad Reinhardt's Blue Paintings for the early 1950s. And yet the format of his progressions, which hold forms that gradually increase as the corresponding voids progressively decrease, allowed Judd an infinite opportunity to alter the length, frontal shape and coloration of his progressions with different colors and surfaces. Untitled is a supreme example from a series which would come to define Judd as the most iconic and innovative sculptor of the 20th century.
American • 1928 - 1994
Donald Judd was an American artist known for large-scale minimalistic sculptures, which he personally referred to as "specific objects." Though associated with Minimalism, Judd did not wish to be confined to this categorization and felt that his work was more complex.
He utilized industrial materials and demonstrated the way in which they interacted with their surroundings, an effect he felt was more powerful than flat oil on canvas. Judd was more interested in the spacing of his pieces and the way viewers would interpret them than the importance of the pieces themselves. Inspired by architecture, the artist designed and produced his own furniture, predominantly in wood, and eventually hired a diverse team of carpenters late in his career.
New York Auction 18 May 2017