Donald Judd - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Tuesday, May 16, 2023 | Phillips
  • “I had always considered my work another activity of some kind... I certainly didn’t think I was making sculpture.”
    — Donald Judd
    Donald Judd’s untitled (Menziken #91-175), 1991, exemplifies the artist’s preoccupation with positive and negative space through his unique privileging of industrial materials. Beginning his career as an abstract painter and shifting into the producer of the Minimalist three-dimensional forms for which he is known today, the present work celebrates the interplays of space and color which are central to the artist’s oeuvre. A pioneer of the Conceptual art movement, Judd and his contemporaries believed that ideas themselves could exist as art, separate from any material conventions. Created just three years before his death in 1994, the present work belongs to the Menziken series, each composed of Swiss-manufactured aluminum and monochrome Plexiglas sheets—here in rich black, a departure from vibrant colors such as Cadmium red and Ultramarine blue. Similar examples of Judd’s later works are housed in private collections at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Dallas Museum of Art and The Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas.


    The Menziken series


    Rejecting the tenets of the Abstract Expressionism movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Judd sought out industrial materials for his works, chosen for their pliability and anonymity. Using materials which remove any indication of the artist’s hand, the artist privileges the object over the process. In the 1990s, Judd chose Alu Menziken—a Swiss-based metal processing company—for their aluminum product. Its even, matte sheen reflects light with elegance and subtlety. For the acrylic Plexiglas placed within the rectangular container, Judd here returns to the more monochrome compositions from the earlier part of his career, using the box’s sharp, perfectly shaped edges and corners to highlight the neutrality of the black color. The result is a structure which draws you into a black expanse, almost like a black hole with no beginning or end, except for a thin, bisecting central line of aluminum which breaks our gaze, reminding us that the object is just that—an object.

    “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

    Judd strove to create “specific objects” - things that refused to reference or represent any real thing in the material world. Intentionally ambiguous, untitled explores the artist’s fascination with the “blank areas, or just the plain areas, and what is seen obliquely, so the color and the plane and the face are somewhat obscure to the front.”i This Conceptual notion leaves the interpretation of the sculpture entirely dependent on viewer’s relation to it physically. Through this, Judd’s specific objects hover between fine art and mundane structure, painting and sculpture, creating a dichotomy that is uniquely Judd. Defying the boundaries of art making, the present work rejects classification, turning a seemingly simple box into something much more complex.




    i Donald Judd, quoted in John Coplans, Donald Judd, exh. cat., Pasadena Art Museum, 1971, pp. 36-37.

    • Provenance

      Judd Foundation (acquired in 1994)
      Lisson Gallery, London (acquired in 2000)
      Gallery André Simoens, Knokke
      Private Collection, Belgium
      Gallery Mireille Mosler, Ltd., New York (acquired from the above in 2012)
      Acquired from the above by the present owner on May 25, 2016

    • Exhibited

      London, Lisson Gallery, Donald Judd (Large Works from the Judd Estate, Marfa, Texas), September 18–October 18, 1997

    • 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.

      View More Works


untitled (Menziken #91-175)

stamped with the artist's name, number, date and fabricator "DONALD JUDD 91-175 © ALUMINIUM AG MENZIKEN" on the reverse
clear anodized aluminum with black Plexiglas
9 13/16 x 39 3/8 x 9 13/16 in. (24.9 x 100 x 24.9 cm)
Executed in 1991.

Full Cataloguing

$500,000 - 700,000 

Sold for $698,500

Contact Specialist

Annie Dolan

Specialist, Head of Sale, Morning Session
+1 212 940 1288

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 16 May 2023