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David Zwirner Presents Works by Donald Judd Drawn from Seminal 1989 Exhibition

May 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Art Events & Exhibitions

CHELSEA.- David Zwirner presents an exhibition of works by Donald Judd drawn from the artist’s seminal 1989 exhibition held at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany. Brought together from international public and private collections, this is the first time these particular works have been exhibited together in a group of this size since Judd’s 1989 installation. The exhibition is on view May 6 through June 25, 2011.

The exhibition, which spans both of the gallery’s spaces at 525 and 533 West 19th Street, reflects the artist’s intended clarity and rigor in its installation. These works comprise one of Judd’s few explorations of color on a large scale using anodized aluminum and thus provide a focused investigation of the key concerns within Judd’s practice.

This is the gallery’s inaugural exhibition of the artist’s work since having announced its exclusive representation of Judd Foundation.

Installation view Donald Judd David Zwirner New York 580x388 David Zwirner Presents Works by Donald Judd Drawn from Seminal 1989 Exhibition
Installation view, Donald Judd, David Zwirner, New York, 2011. Judd Art © Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photo by Tim Nighswander / IMAGING4ART; courtesy of David Zwirner, New York.

One of the most significant American artists of the post-war period, Donald Judd’s oeuvre has come to define what has been referred to as Minimalist art—a label the artist strongly objected to. The unaffected, straightforward quality of Judd’s work demonstrates his strong interest in color, form, material, and space. With the intention of creating work that could assume a direct material and physical ‘presence’ without recourse to grand philosophical statements, Judd eschewed the classical ideals of representational sculpture to create a rigorous visual vocabulary that sought clear and definite objects as its primary mode of articulation.

Judd began his practice as a painter in the late 1940s; however, he soon introduced three-dimensional elements into the surface of his work. His first sculptural objects took the form of shallow reliefs, and by 1963 he had begun to create freestanding works that were presented directly on the floor and the wall. Throughout his practice, Judd used materials such as plywood, steel, concrete, Plexiglas, and aluminum and employed commercial fabricators in order to get the surfaces and angles he desired. He created declaratively simple, fundamental sculptural forms, many of which took the shape of simple ‘boxes’ or ‘stacks,’ which he would often arrange according to repeated or sequential progressions.

Consisting of twelve identically scaled anodized aluminum works, the historic exhibition at the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden was significant in that it marked the first time Judd used colored anodized aluminum in such a large, floor-mounted format. Although he had previously examined the qualities of an open box form, the works created for Baden-Baden display a distinct systematic approach in determining the interior space of each box, which Judd divided vertically in different spatial configurations, sometimes introducing color through the use of anodized elements or sheets of Plexiglas in blue, black, or amber. The combinations of materials, dividers, and colors—which differ from box to box—thus determine the singular nature of each work within a finite number of variable possibilities; each of the boxes being an individual work that represents one possibility out of the given parameters.

These works demonstrate the artist’s visionary approach to using industrial material as well as his considered attitude toward proportion and installation. They were designed not for the actual space at Baden-Baden, but in relation to each other and within the given framework of their design. Installed together, these artworks present a particularly unified experience of composition and space. For Judd, the placement of a color, panel, or, ultimately, a work, was always part of a larger context. The presentation of the boxes as a group allows for their unique spatial arrangements and colors to be apprehended by the viewer as a whole, while also emphasizing their relationship to the surrounding architectural environment. As such, the exhibition provides a rare opportunity to experience a large-scale presentation of a single body of work by the artist.

The work of Donald Judd (b. 1928 Excelsior Springs, Missouri; d. 1994 New York) has been exhibited internationally since the 1960s and is included in numerous museum collections. A survey exhibition of the artist’s work was organized by the Tate Modern, London, in 2004 and traveled to the K20 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, and the Kunstmuseum Basel. Other important exhibitions of the artist’s work include Donald Judd: Early Work 1955-1968, which traveled from the Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany to the Menil Collection, Houston in 2002-2003 and Donald Judd: Colorist, held at the Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany; Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria; and Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice in 2000-2001. Permanent installations of the artist’s work can be found at Judd Foundation spaces in New York City and Marfa, Texas, along with the neighboring Chinati Foundation; his work is also on long-term view at Dia:Beacon, New York.

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