Though he apparently didn’t like the term, Judd has been called a minimalist. It’s easy to see why: his objects are characterised by geometric shapes, block colours and balanced proportions. He started out as a painter in New York in the 1950s, though later transitioned to sculpture and interior design. His 1964 essay Specific Objects - some have dubbed it a manifesto - rejected the focus on representing space in images that American culture inherited from Europe. From here on in, Judd would focus on actual spaces, rooms people could visit and live in, and objects in them.
New York’s MoMA, Donald Judd “changed the language of modern sculpture.”
Geometric shapes, block colours and sturdy materials are the basis for Judd’s timeless furniture.
A later essay, titled It’s Hard to Find a Good Lamp, was written for a retrospective exhibition of his furniture at Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (a lot of his work certainly seems influenced by the Dutch De Stijl movement). His furniture has remained a prominent part of his legacy, as a recent online exhibition at New York’s MoMA, or a visit to Ayala de Chinati, in Marfa, Texas, demonstrates. Ayala de Chinati is a 130km2 ranch is where Judd produced his most ambitious work - it has become a site of pilgrimage for many aspiring artists and design enthusiasts.
Never one for fuss, Judd’s furniture is as restrained as his art. There’s a great focus on materials and clean lines. The Judd foundation still produces numbered versions of his designs in the USA on a to-order basis. If the weighty shipping cost and unsurprisingly luxurious price tag put you off acquiring an official Judd piece, why not try and make one yourself? Each item on the Judd Foundation’s furniture site is listed alongside its blueprint. Luckily for those without carpentry experience, Judd wasn’t a fan of complicated design.
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