In the 1960s Donald Judd determined a basic vocabulary of materials and forms that he would use throughout his practice, placing simple geometric boxes directly on the floor or spaced evenly along the wall. In forgoing the pedestal, he engaged viewers in a bodily experience that happened in real time and space. He identified and deployed new industrial materials—such as anodized aluminum, Plexiglas, and plywood—that had no precedent in the visual arts. These were used in the construction of square planes, cubes, and rectangular pipes. Rejecting traditional notions of craftsmanship in favor of an industrial production more true to the nature of his materials, Judd delegated the fabrication of his objects to specialized technicians who followed instructions and sketches provided by the artist.
Judd’s complicated relationship to painting is evident in his many wall-mounted structures and his persistent and varied use of color. Rejecting the proscriptions of both painting and sculpture, he focused instead on three-dimensional objects, which, he argued, “can have any relation to the wall, floor, ceiling, room, rooms, or exterior or none at all.” Dia’s Untitled (1975) and Untitled (1991) both consist of a series of wall-mounted boxes that project into space. To avoid any external references, Judd arranged these structures in nonhierarchical order, respectively using a simple line and grid. In a further attempt to reject the illusionism of painting, Judd incorporated color into these series through the use of Plexiglas—a material that assimilates color as an inherent rather than superficial quality.
Donald Judd was born in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, in 1928. He died in New York City in 1994.