Donald Judd - Progressions

28/04/2011 - 20/06/2011

« Material, space and color are the main aspects of visual art »

-- Donald Judd



Gallery Vedovi is pleased to announce the thematic exhibition « Donald Judd: Progressions », a show that focuses on the American sculptor’s early examples of horizontal wall progressions. These iconic pieces in Judd’s lexicon synthesize his empirical approach he takes with exploration into the relationship between color, space and the object. Considered as one of the most radical figure of the minimal art (despite the fact that he refused this appellation), Donald Judd’s (1928-1994) career represents a major breakthrough in art history.


In the early sixties, Donald Judd (1928-1994) evolved his artistic practice - previously manual - opting for an industrial fabrication of his sculptures. Dissatisfied with the results of his experiments in 3 dimensions which took the form of wooden boxes painted (DSS 45-1964), he finally sought to eliminate any human imprint of his creations that caused aesthetic imperfections (intrinsic to the work of artist), but opposed his ideological convictions. Finding a material "objective", emptied of any content or subjective gestural expression is the cornerstone of his philosophy. By releasing all imitative realism and "illusionism" imposed by the figurative style, Judd affirmed the primacy of rationalism in favor of a more logical and radical approach. In March 1964, he chose the plant "Bernstein Brothers" to build his sculptures as an industrial technique in which he used metal forms to confer a degree of precision and extreme homogeneity.


For Judd, the wall and its relation to the object are the heart of his concerns. The object, its place as far as the space that integrates is essential to the definition and prioritization of his artistic concept. Progressions present in this exhibition are his early works that achieved an organization determined to create geometric projections and voids that arrange and occupy space. To create linear structures that grow proportionally from one side to the other, Judd uses sequences as an arbitrary mathematical base. Also, these digital systems are compositional tools lacking all forms of representation; they lend the sculpture a neutrality and clarity necessary which allows the audience to view the works without any given interpretation. The object is simply there. It stands on its own and is fully autonomous since it obeys its own internal logic and rigor. In 1965 he defines the notion of "specific objects" that is neither painting nor sculpture, and in which the structure, color, size and material are exactly equivalent to the total form with no added interpretational value. 


This exhibition presents 5 examples of his three dimensional wall mounted works including 3 "bullnose" models with various sizes, proportions and from different industrial materials. Starting at copper gold from 1969, to the stainless steel in 1971, through to anodized blue in 1975; the evolution of Judd's work parallels the evolution of techniques used in industry. In addition, his growing interest in color distinguishes him for being subjective and inconsistent, therefore making him a subject of great interest and intense research. Throughout his career, he will continue to refine his technique in his quest for the ultimate purpose. His experiments also lead to the creation of geometric progressions from which 2 square emblematic examples are visible here. "Untitled" 1969 is based on the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical concept applied to the progressive arrangement of units or numbers that are proportionally related to each other. 


The force of his language resides in the radically rough, minimalistic and simplistic approach of forms. Beyond this initial reading grid, we see that his objectives are far more complex and rich. He is seeking the symbiotic alchemy between its intrinsic elements and the object’s surrounding – and which are space, material, light and color. Architecture will quickly become a direct corollary of this theoretical and practical research. By creating the DIA Foundation in 1973 (Marfa, Texas), Judd will find a new fertile ground for experimentation in situ of his magnanimous works in nature and the development of new models.  These advocate the concept of “permanent”, that he also uses in the building in New York bought for this purpose in 1968.


Donald Judd was born in Missouri, USA in 1928 and died in New York in 1994. His work is represented in permanent collections, including the MOMA, and was the subject of major exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of Modern Art, New York (1968-1988), National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1975); Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (1987), Saint Louis Art Museum (1991), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2001), Tate Modern, London (2004) and Kunstmuseum, Basel (2005).