Donald Judd - Contemporary Art Part I New York Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Peter Bonnier Gallery, New York; Sale: Christie’s, New York, Post -War And Contemporary Art Afternoon Session, May 14, 2008, lot 382; Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    It isn’t necessary for a work to have a lot of things to look at, to compare, to analyze one by one, to contemplate. The thing as a whole, its quality as a whole, is what is interesting. The main things are alone and are more intense, clear and powerful. They are not diluted by an inherited format, variations of a form, mild contrasts and connecting parts and areas.


    (Donald Judd in N. Serota, ed., Donald Judd, London, 2004)

    “Cor-ten steel introduced a brown color with a velvety surface into Judd’s palette, which inspired him to explore new territory and to create works that, in contrast to the metals used hitherto, absorb rather than radiate light. Corten has an evenly matt, slightly grainy surface in a warm mid-brown. Judd perceived it more as a color than as a material — unlike galvanized iron or aluminum, for instance — and it was this quality that stimulated his sense of color and led him to produce single and multi-part works that revolve around the color of Cor-ten.” (N. Serota, Donald Judd, London, 2004, p. 241).

    In Untitled (Donaldson 90-3) Donald Judd has chosen to render his signature stack in the weathered steel of Cor-ten, pitting it against starkly contrasting black Plexiglas. In doing so, he lends his piece a defined material duality to the vertical composition. The six separate boxes arranged in a parallel scheme stands nearly ten feet tall before the viewer. As one peers into each of the separate boxes, they see a dark background, from the effect of the Plexiglass, surrounded by two attached, open-ended Cor-ten cubes. By instituting this material variation in the three-dimensional work, one’s appreciation expands from delighting in Judd’s spatial play to admiring the widening format in which the spatial play manifests itself. Judd’s piece becomes, then, not only a study of the interaction of materials and the space that they create or destroy, but of the impact of the very crucial element of light and reflection. The non-reflective and light absorbent surface of Cor-ten seems to allow delineate an entry into the separate units.

    Judd’s piece can be seen as an exploration of both positive and negative space as the distance between the units creates a daunting illusion of limitlessness, extending the regular visual form of Brancusi’s Endless Column. As he stated in reference to the articulation of space, “Space is made by an artist or architect; it is not found and packaged. It is made by thought” (Judd, “Some Aspects of Color in General and Red and Black in Particular,” p. 145). If it is Judd’s mind that has created the spaces we see before us, it is our own that lends them their particular infinity. The current lot, and those in its form that both predate and follow it, bore Judd’s label of “specific object”. By this term, Judd supposed them independent of both painting and sculpture. As a separate artistic project, they carry with them incredible conceptual weight; their mission is not only to demonstrate and exhibit, but also to imply and suggest as well. Here, in Untitled (Donaldson 90-3), we see this conceptual weight in both medium and form, the one deceptively simple and the other seemingly boundless.

  • Artist Biography

    Donald Judd

    American • 1928 - 1994

    Donald Judd came to critical acclaim in the 1960s with his deceptively simple, yet revolutionary, three-dimensional floor and wall objects made from new industrial materials, such as anodized aluminum, plywood and Plexiglas, which had no precedent in the visual arts. His oeuvre is characterized by the central constitutive elements of color, material, and space. Rejecting the illusionism of painting and seeking an aesthetic freed from metaphorical associations, Judd sought to explore the relationship between art object, viewer, and surrounding space with his so-called "specific objects." From the outset of his three-decade-long career, Judd delegated the fabrication to specialized technicians, eschewing any trace of the artist’s hand. Though associated with the minimalist movement, Judd rejected the term and did not wish to confine his practice to this categorization. 

    After moving to Marfa in 1972, he began drawing plans for the Chinati Foundation, an exhibition space which opened in 1986 to showcase his objects as well as the work of other contemporary artists and is still operating today. In 2020, his revolutionary career was celebrated in a major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. 

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Untitled 90-3 Donaldson

Cor-ten steel and black Plexiglas in six parts.
Overall 118 1/8 x 19 1/4 x 9 7/8 in. (300 x 48.9 x 25.1 cm). Each 9 7/8 x 19 1/4 x 9 7/8 in. (25.1 x 48.9 x 25.1 cm.)

$2,000,000 - 3,000,000 

Sold for $2,098,500

Contemporary Art Part I

12 May 2011
New York