Artist and Musician Biographies


In this video, the Architect Robert A. M. Stern discusses Judd's work.

Since Tony Smith had already been named the "Father of Minimal Art", Donald Judd (Don Judd) must take the title as the "Son of Minimal Art". Born in 1928 in Missouri to a father who traveled quite a bit for his career, Don Judd didn't have the chance to develop long friendships, which left him with a rather shy personality.

Don Judd received a B.S. degree in philosophy from Columbia College in 1953 and an MA in art history at Columbia University in 1962. Because of his shyness, Judd did not participate in the local artist social scene in New York City. He mainly kept to himself and spent most of his time painting dark abstractions. While attending classes, Judd supported himself by writing reviews and articles for some well-known art magazines such as "Art News" and "Arts Magazine". His criticism gave him some recognition as a trendsetter for interpreting the arts. In addition to his writing capabilities, Judd also had a chance to display his own paintings in a couple of group exhibitions in 1956 and 1957 at the Panoras Gallery in New York City.

In 1961, Donald Judd made the transition from painting to 3-D art. He felt that "much art could no longer be described as either painting or sculpture" and termed it three-dimensional art. His first piece was exhibited at the Green Gallery in New York City in 1963. The sculpture was flat and blank compared to the works of the Abstract Expressionist artists who preceded him. The works of the abstract expressionists can be interpreted as full of art and expression just as much as the minimalist art can be completely devoid of art and expression.

Don Judd was not interested in compositional effects for he felt that these placed an emphasis between the many parts of the work and took away from the entire piece as a whole. The minimalists were strong proponents of creating work that stood for what it was rather than making it look like something else. The Minimalists, including Don Judd, felt that if something was made to look like something else, the art was inferior to the object that it is trying to mimic. Therefore, most of the pieces are left untitled which prevents the viewer from making any analogies to objects they are familiar with.

The whole idea behind the work was to let the viewer make all the connections for themselves without any clues from the artist. This ensured that the viewer was a full participant in the observation and understanding of the piece.

Like Tony Smith, Don Judd had his objects made by manufacturing companies, which gave his work both a cold precision and anonymity. The choice of materials used for each piece was carefully considered when designing the piece. Every material has its unique strength, cut precision, and color. Judd's choice of material for his work was geared to get the most precise, engineered cut and design that he could erase any artistic expression possible.

However, despite his philosophy, some of his pieces have an aesthetic quality to them. For example, his piece entitled, "Untitled" (1969) Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY) has somewhat of an eye appeal with its translucent orange plexiglass contrasted to the galvanized iron bands. Though the concept of repetition with the 10 identical boxes may be boring to some, the choice in material and color adds an aesthetic dimension, although this may not have been his intention.

Don Judd passed away in 1994. Although his work was left untitled, his name will long be remembered as one of the most important Minimal artists.

Page author: L.C.