Extended through January 22, 2022
I think the origin of my work does lie in painting. My work doesn’t arise from sculpture; it comes out of the paintings of Pollock, Newman, Rothko.
Gagosian is pleased to present the gallery’s first exhibition of work by Donald Judd (1928–1994) in New York since announcing its representation of the artist and Judd Foundation in September. The exhibition features fifteen paintings dating from 1959 through 1961.
While Judd’s oeuvre is defined principally through his three-dimensional work—which he conceived in opposition to the essential properties of both conventional painting and sculpture—he began his practice as a painter while also taking graduate courses in art history at Columbia University in New York. In addition, he supported himself as a critic: beginning in 1959, and continuing for the next five years, he wrote prolifically for Art News and Arts Magazine, publishing incisive essays and reviews of contemporary art during a momentous era. Judd’s paintings make manifest the understanding of postwar modernism that he articulated in his writing.
The paintings on view are nonrepresentational and reject spatial illusionism. They precede relief works made later in 1961 in which Judd incorporated found objects, while his concern with volumetric space led him to abandon painting altogether by the following year. Featuring biomorphic shapes in blue and purple, as well as fields of white, black, gray, and cadmium red, they reflect an exploratory approach to formal issues of structure, materiality, and color. Their application ranges from dense impasto to thin wash, underpainting emerging at times through the layers of pigment.
Above all, these paintings are dominated by line, which, as Judd wrote of Joseph Stella’s paintings in a 1959 review, “exists independently as a vivifying, electric element.” Judd placed increasing emphasis on line as his painting practice developed from 1959 through 1961, but rather than operating primarily to define shape, the interconnected lines in many of these paintings branch and meander across the canvas.
In an untitled work from 1960, the exhibition’s largest, a network of white lines divide the surface asymmetrically, demarcating a dark ground that is itself activated by layered directional brushstrokes. In a work from 1961, ribbons of blue and white arc across a white field, controlled drips emerging from their edges. Largely abandoning the curving lines that proliferate elsewhere, another painting from 1961 features a central square composed of parallel diagonal stripes, presaging the investigation of geometric form that would emerge as one of Judd’s primary concerns.
In 2020, Gagosian New York, in association with Judd Foundation, presented an exhibition of Judd’s largest single plywood construction, an untitled work from 1980 that spans 80 feet in length. Artwork: 1980 coincided with the first major museum survey of the artist’s work in the United States in three decades, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The first exhibition of Judd’s work in Hong Kong is on view at Gagosian Hong Kong from October 13 to November 13, 2021.
Eileen Costello, Marta Kuzma, and Caitlin Murray on Donald Judd: Paintings
Art historian Eileen Costello and Yale School of Art professor Marta Kuzma discuss Donald Judd’s two-dimensional work and how the lessons he learned from the innovations of Abstract Expressionist and Color Field paintings permeate his entire body of work. Their conversation is moderated by Caitlin Murray, director of archives and programs at Judd Foundation.
Peter Ballantine and Martha Buskirk on Donald Judd
Peter Ballantine, Donald Judd’s longtime fabricator of plywood works, and Martha Buskirk, professor of art history and criticism at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts, discuss the development, production, and history of the largest plywood construction Judd ever made, an untitled work from 1980.
Gagosian Quarterly Fall 2022
The Fall 2022 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Jordan Wolfson’s House with Face (2017) on its cover.
There is No Neutral Space: The Architecture of Donald Judd, Part 2
In this second installment of a two-part essay, Julian Rose continues his exploration of Donald Judd’s engagement with architecture. Here, he examines the artist’s proposals for projects in Bregenz, Austria, and in Basel, arguing that Judd’s approach to shaping space provides a model for contemporary architectural production.
Building a Legacy
Judd Foundation Archives
Richard Shiff speaks with Caitlin Murray, director of archives and programs at Judd Foundation, about the archive of Donald Judd, how to approach materials that occupy the gray area between document and art, and some of the considerations unique to stewarding an archive housed within and adjacent to spaces conceived by the artist.
There Is No Neutral Space: The Architecture of Donald Judd, Part 1
Julian Rose explores the question: what does it mean for an artist to make architecture? Delving into the archives of Donald Judd, he examines three architectural projects by the artist. Here, in the first installment of a two-part essay, he begins with an invitation in Bregenz, Austria, in the early 1990s, before turning to an earlier project, in Marfa, Texas, begun in 1979.
Eileen Costello and Marta Kuzma on Donald Judd
Moderated by Caitlin Murray
Wednesday, November 17, 2021, 7pm est
Join Gagosian for a conversation between art historian Eileen Costello and Yale School of Art professor Marta Kuzma, moderated by Caitlin Murray, director of archives and programs at Judd Foundation, on the occasion of the exhibition Donald Judd: Paintings 1959–1961 at Gagosian, New York. Livestreaming from the exhibition in Chelsea, the trio will discuss Judd’s two-dimensional work and how the lessons he learned from the innovations of Abstract Expressionist and Color Field painters—including Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, and Mark Rothko—permeate his entire body of work. To join the online event, register at eventbrite.com.
Donald Judd, untitled, 1961 © Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Rob McKeever
Extended through September 4, 2020
March 12–September 4, 2020
West 21st Street, New York