Donald Judd - Evening & Day Editions London Wednesday, January 21, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Brooke Alexander, Inc. New York
    Private Collection, Rhineland

  • Exhibited

    Marfa, Texas, Chinati Foundation Donald Judd: Woodcuts, 12-13 October 2013 (another example exhibited)

  • Literature

    Jörg Schellmann 167-176

  • Catalogue Essay

    Donald Judd began his printmaking career as early as 1951, first creating lithographs before moving on to woodcuts in 1953, which would become his dominant print medium. During his initial experimentation with woodcuts, Judd quickly abandoned figurative depictions and began to develop an angular, robust style, exploring the many possibilities of line: first curved and then straight, playing with repetition, shape and colour.

    Despite Judd’s dislike of working directly with printmaking tools, and the labour involved with carving the wood (a task he later entrusted to his father, Roy), the artist was pleased by the hard-edged abstraction the woodcut medium produced, and enjoyed working through various proofs and trial states for each print. As Jeffrey Weiss explains, to examine Judd’s woodcuts is to “encounter something we rarely associated with this artist: the materiality of process…how better to account for the material nature of the thickly inked sheets, which allowed the artist to retain some connection to pictorial practice – to the smell and touch of a worked medium, and to labor rather than manufacture.”

    Judd worked prolifically in the woodcut medium throughout the 1960s, testing various thicknesses of line and modification of shape, in particular the parallelogram. However, it is not until 1986, with Judd’s production of four woodcuts for the portfolio For Joseph Beuys, that we see a true visual predecessor to the present lot. These four woodcuts (in brown, blue, red, and green), depict a single field of coloured ink, which matches the rectangular shape of the paper. This series was something of a declaration in its simple, yet uncompromising celebration of colour. As Marietta Josephus Jitta stated, “In his graphical work, [this] series is continually referred to as the basis for new research on the flat surface.”

    With the present lot, Judd has departed from simple, colour-field prints to create a sequence of works that elaborate upon the possibilities for dividing pictorial space. The series itself is formed of five sets of pairs, each one the direct inverse of the other. However, more than simply depicting visual opposites, Judd’s pairings invite the viewer to play with the idea of negative space. There is a vital physicality to this set of woodcuts, which can be considered analogous to Judd’s three-dimensional objects in that an inner volume and an outer frame have been transferred onto flat paper. By presenting the viewer with two options for each variant, the artist introduces an intriguing prospect: even within a confined, rectilinear construct, the viewer has the choice of which space to visually inhabit.

    In this set, Judd explored the various proportional divisions of halves and thirds; creating numerous possibilities that demonstrate the rich, and seemingly endless potential of a single colour, and just a few, elegant lines.

  • 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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The complete set of 10 woodcuts in ultramarine blue, on Okawara paper, five with full margins, five the full sheets, with colophon,
85.3 x 66.6 x 1.7 cm (33 5/8 x 26 1/4 x 5/8 in.)
all signed and annotated 'PP 2/4' in pencil on the reverse (a printer's proof set, the edition was 25 and 10 artist's proofs), published by Brooke Alexander Editions, New York, the sheets loose (as issued), contained in the original grey linen-covered portfolio.

£100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for £182,500

Contact Specialist
Robert Kennan
Head of Sale, Editions
+44 207 318 4075

Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 22 January 2015 2pm & 6pm