Gallerynote 3/2004

September 21 to November 20, 2004

DONALD JUDD (1928-1994)
Twenty-seven drawings from the sketchbooks of the years 1963 and 1964 have been made available to us for this exhibition on loan by the Donald Judd Foundation. Marianne Stockebrand from the foundation made the selection and put together the sheets from the significant store of drawings that manifest the approach of the artist to his own work process.

The sketchbooks are actual workbooks, records of Judd's artistic thinking and planning. Donald Judd never distanced himself from these. In 1976, Dieter Koepplin was able to examine the drawings for the first time and show an extensive group of them in an exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Basel. The accompanying publication is essential to the study of his work. Many sheets in our exhibition are contained in the catalogue and were part of the museum presentation. Having since remained almost without exception under lock and key, they form an important complement to the Judd retrospective at the Kunstmuseum and at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel (October 2, 2004, through January 9, 2005).

A 1963 show in New York's Green Gallery was the first time Donald Judd exhibited three-dimensional objects standing on the ground without a base like everyday objects. They are primarily made of wood featuring intense coloring. A clear horizontal and vertical orientation characterizes these works. A corresponding placement is thus given. Traditional sculpture is superseded by objects for which there is still no name or term in the field of art. Donald Judd has written and spoken on the subject, but the question remains unsolved to the present day. Thankfully so, for these self-confident intruders have changed art and opened up many possibilities. They are artifacts that address the proximity toward and contrast with commodities, to the vocabulary of industrial fabrication. They remain the basis of the oeuvre of this leading artist personality and make clear how little his work has to do with a concrete-constructivist European tradition. In the highly significant drawings from those years, Judd sketched plastic forms which integrate diverse shapes into a whole. Forms that show an internal and an external structuring. Industrial fabrication will later unavoidably decimate the variety of forms. Donald Judd subsequently invents a number of basic types, stringently elaborating the differences to develop works that articulate their strong presence through their attributes.

The drawings are the simplest possible visualizations of the artist's ideas, employing no tricks whatsoever. The brilliant coups of some contemporaries scorned Judd as retrograde arts and crafts. It is precisely the earnest soberness of the sheets that gives them their high artistic rank.

Wall pieces and Floor pieces from 1967 to 1991 round out this outstanding exhibition that is meant to remind that the gallery has represented the work of the artist since 1973 and showed it in many solo and group exhibitions.


Donald Judd (1928-1994) Retrospective, Basel Public Art Collection: Kunstmuseum and Museum für Gegenwartskunst, October 2, 2004, to January 9, 2005

Dan Flavin (1933-1996) A Retrospective, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., October 3, 2004 to January 9, 2005