Donald Judd - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, May 14, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
    Locksley Shea Gallery, Minneapolis
    Private Collection, Minnesota

  • Exhibited

    Ottawa, Ontario, The National Gallery of Canada, Donald Judd, May 24 – July 6, 1975
    London, Saatchi Gallery, Donald Judd, Brice Marden, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, 1985 (another unique example exhibited)
    Eindhoven, The Netherlands, Stedelijk van Abbesmuseum, Donald Judd: Beelden/Sculptures 1965 –1987, April 26 – June 2, 1987, then traveled to Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf (June 27 – August 9, 1987), Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (December 8, 1987– February 7, 1988), Barcelona, Fundació Joan Miró (February 25 – April 24, 1988) (another example exhibited)

  • Literature

    D. Del Balso, B. Smith & R. Smith, Donald Judd: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Objects and Wood-Blocks 1960-1974, Ottawa, 1975, p. 200, no. 197 (illustrated)
    Donald Judd, exh. cat., Ottawa, Ontario, The National Gallery of Canada, 1975, no. 39 (illustrated)
    P. Schjeldahl, Art of Our Time: The Saatchi Collection, Book 1, London and New York: Lund Humphries, 1984, pl. 25 (illustrated)
    Donald Judd: Beelden/Sculptures 1965 – 1987, exh. cat., Eindhoven, The Netherlands, Stedelijk van Abbesmuseum, 1987, pl. 14 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “A work can be as powerful as it can be thought to be. Actual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint on a flat surface.” Donald Judd, 1964

    Executed in 1969, Donald Judd's Untitled (DSS 197) is an early and spectacular rendition of one of the artist's most enduring themes that explore his fascination with measurements and mathematics. Judd first developed the progression format in 1964 with an initial series executed with rounded forms intercut with space. This series itself grew out of an even earlier investigation in which Judd set a hollow pipe into a solid wooden block. Then bisecting the pipe, and altering its own spatiality in reference to the form in which it sat, Judd began to delve further into the manner in which these manipulations of the object transfer into revolutions in space. Transformed into the idea of a progression, in which solid form and negative space alternate and interact according to an a priori mathematical system, Judd transferred this simple spatial play into relief form by extending the work horizontally and hanging it on the wall. In doing so, these manufactured works began to echo some of the formal developments that Judd, originally a painter, had experimented with in his early two-dimensional works.

    Projecting out from the flat plane of the wall in clear relief format, the hard-edged forms of the surface of Untitled (DSS 197) and the punctuated negative spaces between them articulate a spatial contortion in a similar, but ultimately more powerful and specific, fashion as painting does illusionistically. This clinically measured and precisely realized mathematical sequence of alternating form generates a simple relief that Judd intended would, in a way that is impossible in painting, involve itself in the flat but real space of the wall and interact with its greater surroundings. It was Judd's hope that the articulation of the manifest contrast between the flat plane of the wall and the relief itself would, dependent on its placement, invoke a wider understanding of the entire architecture of the space into which it was set.

    The first progression in this format was made in wood and painted with a dark red lacquer, but soon after, when Judd began having his works made by the industrial manufacturers Bernstein Brothers in 1964, these 'progressions,' were cast in a wide variety of metals. One of his most preferred materials, especially in these earlier years, was galvanized iron. Devoid of the art-historical referents of bronze, copper, or marble, galvanized iron satisfied Judd’s interest in developing a new art of the 20th century which would both consist of and speak to the materials of the age. Indeed, it was galvanized iron which Judd chose for his first two stacks, possibly the only series as recognizable and archetypal of the artist as the progressions. Further, galvanized iron is the only metal which has an intrinsic natural patterning which lends it a painterly quality even as its industrial applications belie its strength and durability as a utilitarian material.

    In an evolution from the simple repetitive geometry of a work like Brancusi's Endless Column Judd's 'progression' materializes into a seemingly regular, but in fact developmental and growing, sequence using an a priori mathematical system. The eloquent translation of this elegant numerical play into material form lends the work a transcendent, futuristic and almost unworldly feel that is at odds with its manifest materiality and the overt simplicity of the work's structure. In an interview with John Coplans, Judd discussed the possible progressions, "In one of the progressions I used the Fibonacci series. In another I used the kind of inverse natural number series: one, minus a half, plus a third, a fourth, a fifth, etc. No one other than a mathematician is going to know what that series really is. You don't walk up to it and understand how it is working, but I think you do understand that there is a scheme there, and that it doesn't look as if it is just done part by part visually. So it's not conceived part by part, it's done in one shot. The progressions made it possible to use an asymmetrical arrangement, yet to have some sort of order not involved in composition." (D. Judd and J. Coplans, "Don Judd" (Interview), in Don Judd, exh. cat., Pasadena Art Museum, 1971, p. 38).

    In his 1964 treatise Specific Objects, Judd railed against the constraints that he felt had been placed on Western art for almost a millennia. He felt that the limitations of the rectangular form placed flat against a wall and the need to try and replicate the illusion of space on the painted surface stifled the creative process and needed to be discarded. Works such as Untitled (DSS 197) were Judd's response to what he saw as a crisis in contemporary art and the need to create new forms that responded to the challenges of their time. With works such as this, Judd takes his place among the pantheon of twentieth century artists who fundamentally changed the course of history. Following in the tradition of Jackson Pollock, whose drip paintings finally broke the bond between painter and canvas, and Frank Stella's Black Paintings which discarded the need for spatial illusion, Judd makes the next, unassailable step of taking art into a new dimension—a dimension in which it could finally achieve the full potential of creativity.

  • Artist Biography

    Donald Judd

    American • 1928 - 1994

    Donald Judd came to critical acclaim in the 1960s with his 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. Though associated with the minimalist movement, Judd did not wish to confine his practice to this categorization.


    Inspired by architecture, the artist also designed and produced his own furniture, predominantly in wood, and eventually hired a diverse team of carpenters late in his career.

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galvanized iron
5 x 40 x 9 in. (12.7 x 101.6 x 22.9 cm)
This work is 2 of 3 unique variants.

$1,000,000 - 1,500,000 

Sold for $965,000

Contact Specialist
Amanda Stoffel
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1261

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Evening Sale 14 May 2015 7pm