Donald Judd - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Lennart Preutz, Sweden (acquired directly from the artist)
    Jeffrey Steiner, United States
    Peder Bonnier, United States
    Vivian Horan Fine Art, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Executed in 1989 towards the end of the artist’s career, untitled stands as a culmination of Donald Judd’s three-decade long exploration into color, material, and space as the fundamental tenants of his artistic practice. A pioneer of minimalism in the 1960s, Judd rejected this narrow categorization of his artwork and instead proclaimed himself the creator of “specific objects”, a term coined by the artist himself and characterized by self-containment, three-dimensionality, and without allusion to the pictorial world. Throughout his career, Judd explored the possibilities of industrial materials, and in the 1980s he began working with three different manufacturers to produce his wall-bound sculptures. Two of these manufacturers were based in Switzerland, and the third, Lascaux Materials – from which the present lot originates – was based in Brooklyn, New York. In discussing Judd’s Lascaux-fabricated works, New York Times art critic (and former assistant to the artist) Roberta Smith noted, “These aggregates of shallow open pans individually painted and screwed together added new and needed twists to his cardinal principles of real color, materials and space. It is not hard to see their syncopated honeycombs of rectangles beside, above and below rectangles as homages to Albers' homages to the square.” (Roberta Smith, “Art in Review; Josef Albers/Donald Judd”, New York Times, April 29, 2005, online). Smith’s commentary on the heightened importance of color in Judd’s practice during these years is notably exemplified in untitled’s vibrant cobalt hue, made possible by the introduction of new materials in the artist’s working method.

    Clean lines and austere geometric forms, features that have become synonymous with Judd’s oeuvre, coalesce in untitled with striking candor. Bold and refined, the present lot is comprised of twelve open-faced blocks that take form in an autonomous, wall-bound unit. The frontal plane is divided into four equal rectangles of controlled symmetry, which are unified by their singular blue color. The artist’s deliberate reduction of palette refocuses the viewer’s attention on the architectural space at play, as light and shadow reverberate off of the interior perpendicular planes creating gradations of color on an otherwise monochromatic form. In untitled, Judd explores the relationship between surface and volume as it applies to interior and exterior space. This is evidenced not only in the quadrants on the front, but also in the two openings at the sides which reveal themselves as the viewer is re-positioned in front of the wall at various angles.

    In his “specific objects”, Judd strove to remove any trace of the artist’s hand from his process. Works such as untitled were fabricated in industrial factories, and constructed of materials commonly used in machinery and appliances, not typically likened to the realm of fine art. In utilizing these materials and fabricators, Judd redefined the artist’s role as it was traditionally conceptualized, laying the groundwork for contemporary sculpture as it developed at the turn of the 21st Century.

  • 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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stamped with the artist's name, number, date and fabricator "DONALD JUDD 89-45 LASCAUX MATERIALS LTD. BROOKLYN, N.Y." on the reverse
painted aluminum
11 7/8 x 47 3/8 x 11 7/8 in. (30.2 x 120.3 x 30.2 cm.)
Executed in 1989.

$300,000 - 400,000 

Sold for $423,000

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 16 May 2018