Donald Judd

Donald Judd

Fellow: Awarded 1968
Field of Study: Fine Arts

Competition: US & Canada

Donald Judd, a major figure in the 1960s Minimalist art movement, championed explorations of the inherent qualities in materials and forms as the defining aspect of his art.  Mr. Judd was born in Missouri in 1928 and moved around to several cities with his family as a young man, before serving in the army in the Korean War.  Upon his return, he enrolled at Columbia University to study philosophy and attended classes at the Art Students League of New York.  He later continued graduate studies in art history at Columbia, and began writing art criticism in the late 1950s and early 1960s for Art News, Art Magazine, and Art International while working as an artist.   Painting after the height of the Abstract Expressionist movement in the 1950s, Mr. Judd rejected the gestural and expressive in his works, instead allowing the work of art to develop based on properties inherent in the art itself rather than through projections of human emotion onto the work.  He authored some of the most important articles on the new direction of art in the 1960s, and is famous for asserting that painting as a genre was “finished.”

Mr. Judd moved away from painting and into three-dimensional work, exploring a more sparing visual vocabulary in the early 1960s that some critics point to as an important predecessor of Conceptualist art.  While Mr. Judd was a strong advocate for art justified solely in its explorations of space, material, and form, he rejected applying the word “sculpture” to his work, which to him signified carving, as well as the label “Minimalist.”  

Mr. Judd began making his well-known boxes, objects, and open structures, often painted bright cadmium red.  His works began progressing towards the use of more mechanical materials, such as chrome, steel, plastic, and industrial paint.  Mr. Judd also incorporated mathematical models to determine the construction of his structures, in a movement away from traditional practices of composition and the artist’s subjectivity in artwork.  Later in his career, Mr. Judd also worked with large-scale installations and furniture design, setting up permanent installation sites in New York and at his residence in Marfa, Texas.  He passed away in 1994, at sixty-five years of age.

Mr. Judd reached fame as a preeminent postwar artist while exhibiting his boxes and structures at the Greene Gallery in the mid-1960s, and gave up writing art criticism to pursue making art full-time.  His work has been included in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Tate Modern in London, and at the National Gallery of Canada in Halifax.  

He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to continue producing large-scale works in plastic and steel.  He also received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Swedish Institute, and was awarded the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture.   His work is included in the collections of the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Dia Art Foundation in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., the Tate Gallery in London, and in several other institutions internationally.


For more information about Donald Judd:

The Chinati Foundation

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