Donald Judd, the minimalist sculptor who refused to use either of those words to describe himself or his art, worked for more than 30 years in New York City, creating an astonishing array of his primary obsessions, what he called "boxes," "stacks," and "progressions." And although frequent gallery-goers might feel like they've seen plenty of Judd's works over the years this sensational new exhibition at MoMA, open now and running into July, is the artist's first US retrospective in decades.
Judd's pieces can seem a bit mundane when viewed in a vacuum, but MoMA's curatorial team has done a great job of packing the museum's sixth floor with a tremendous variety of shapes, colors, and forms, while still giving each piece enough space to stand on its own. I spent a couple of hours in these galleries on Saturday, and was surprised by how much of the work felt fresh and vital, allowing me to appreciate the artist's work in new ways.
Judd used harsh, unromantic materials like plywood, aluminum, concrete, and plexiglass, and throughout most of his career delegated the actual production of his pieces to local metal shops.
As for sourcing materials — "I spent a lot of time looking around," he once said. "I'd see a nice piece of aluminum tubing or a strip of plastic on Canal Street and I'd buy it."
Starting in the late 1960s, and until his death in 1994, Judd's primary home and work space was a five-story cast iron building on the corner of Spring and Mercer Streets, which remains open to visitors today.
The MoMA exhibition also displays several of Judd's early paintings, which were often given dimension through found objects. And in the final gallery, you'll be hit with the bright colors of his later work.
Judd also designed furniture, several examples of which have been placed in the gift shop near the entrance, including a cushioned daybed.
The Donald Judd retrospective at MoMA is open through July 11th on the museum's sixth floor.