Donald Judd - 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, July 2, 2020 | Phillips

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  • In Short

    "Material, space, and color are the main aspects of visual art. Everyone knows that there is material that can be picked up and sold, but no one sees space and color. Two of the main aspects of art are invisible; the basic nature of art is invisible"
    – Donald Judd

  • A Simple Box is a Complicated Thing

    Color and light comingle while suspended in space in untitled, a luminous turquoise box bisected by a clear panel. Exemplifying the precise formal clarity characteristic of Donald Judd’s singular approach, it represents the culmination of his three-decade long investigation of color, material, and space. 

    Judd resolutely rejected the term “minimalism”—which denoted the movement he helped pioneer in the 1960s—and declared his works to be not minimalist artworks but “specific objects” without reference to the pictorial world.

    “Judd was a colorist at heart—he never could handle the term minimal art; he didn't like it very much, because in that sense he was never a minimalist,” Rudi Fuchs told Phillips.The shapes are simple because they are only meant to be carriers of color. They have to carry the color, to transport the color.”

    “A simple box is really a complicated thing” – Donald Judd  

    Though hung on a wall as a painting, untitled’s implied architectural space and industrial fabrication call into question the physiological dynamics inherent to viewing three-dimensional objects. “This work which is neither painting nor sculpture challenges both,” Judd said of another box piece. “Three dimensions are real space. That gets rid of the problem of illusion and literal space, space in and around marks and colors… Actual Space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint on a flat surface.”[i]

    Though Judd’s works embody the same monumental, heroic facets that characterized Abstract Expressionism, they are devoid of all gesture and exist as spatial phenomena in and of themselves. These questions of objecthood and presence were most frequently explored in the shape of a box, Judd’s primary structure, which he selected for the neutrality he considered inherent to the shape. His interrogations of the box—open versus enclosed, vacant or solid—defined nearly his entire oeuvre.

    Though Judd ceased making paintings in the early 1960s, his painter’s eye for color stayed with him for his entire career. This predilection became more conspicuous in the last decade of his career, and his final pieces demonstrate an almost exuberant use of color—which in the current work, takes the form of a vibrant blue.  

    Donald Judd, untitled, 1969. Saint Louis Art Museum, Artwork © 2020 Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    Barnett Newman, Onement VI, 1953. Private Collection, Artwork © 2020 Barnett Newman Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    “Judd was without a doubt a first-rate colorist. In that sense, he is the right successor to Barnett Newman” – Rudi Fuchs 


     [i] Donald Judd, quoted in Donald Judd: Complete Writings 1959-1975, Halifax, 1975, p. 181. 
  • Collector's Digest


    Donald Judd’s innovative approach is currently being celebrated at a landmark retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York




    • Provenance

      Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne
      Private Collection, Europe (acquired from the above in 1994)
      Christie’s, New York, November 16, 2017, lot 639
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Cologne, Galerie Gmurzynska, Donald Judd: The Moscow Installation, March 3 - May 21, 1994 pp. 31, 34-35 (illustrated)

    • 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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Property from a Distinguished Private Collector



stamped with the artist's name, fabricator, number and date “DONALD JUDD 91-42 © ALUMINIUM AG MENZIKEN” on the reverse
clear and turquoise anodized aluminum
9 3/4 x 39 1/4 x 9 3/4 in. (24.8 x 99.7 x 24.8 cm)
Executed in 1991.

Full Cataloguing

$550,000 - 750,000 

Sold for $680,000

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1278

20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 2 July 2020