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Mr. Burgher's Art Facts

Donald Judd

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Donald Judd: June 3,1928-February 12,1994...United States

There's probably more in the American tradition than people give the place credit for.

~Donald Judd

One of the minimalist leaders of the Geometric Abstraction stream is Donald Judd. Working largely in industrial materials, Judd would create works from several medias including metal, plywood, and concrete. He was born in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. He went on into the military where he served the Army in Korea. After his service to the his country, he attended The College of William and Mary, went on to the Art Students League in New York, earned a philosophy degree from Columbia University in 1953. Four years later he would have his first solo exhibition.

Coming more into his own as an artist after the 1957 Panoras Gallery show, he felt like he needed a stronger art background to get to the next level of understand art as a whole. That year he began graduate school, with an art history major, at Columbia University under Meyer Schapiro. He worked for about ten years at an art critic for ARTnews, Arts Magazine, and Art International. He gradually shifted his artwork from painting to sculpture from 1960 through 1962. "I was a painter until maybe '61 or '62 - I'll have to figure out the dates - and then I started doing three-dimensional things." In the 1960s he began being exhibited throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan.

Judd was beginning to construct some of his most influential works by 1965. As one looks at his works, you would find a lot that consist of simple geometric shapes (thus us considering him a Geometric Abstraction artist). They are, cut and dry, simple. Some sit on the floor or hang on a wall. Some look like light fixtures, coat hangers, or other everyday items with an artists twist. "I pay a lot of attention to how things are done and the whole activity of building something is interesting." Many of his works also consist of several pieces that are constructed to look slightly different within the same basic dimensions but work together as one work of art. Although considered abstract, his works are a reaction against abstract painting. He liked Jackson Pollock as person, but said that he had "no use of composition." He also said, "Pollock is not an ordinary painter; he's not an Expressionist in the usual sense. He's always been pulled in with them, but I think he's a much more radical artist…more than de Kooning. As far as the second generation goes, I think they missed the whole boat on his nature and importance."

Although he had some obvious issues with Pollock, Judd did like other artists of his time that most would not connect him with. Specifically, Judd had a great deal of respect and admiration for Claes Oldenburg, Frank Stella, John Chamberlain, and Dan Flavin. "Geometric art as such doesn't mean all that much to me. A lot of the people I admire aren't doing it. I don't feel the connection is that way." When it came to his own work, unlike most artists, Judd’s work it truly unique because there was no connection between himself and his art. "What you see is what you see." His art was a product of his occupation and had no other meaning than that. Later in his career, he would have the work built by skilled craftspeople. "After all, the work isn't the point; the piece is…Building is just skilled labor, I suppose. It's a lot of work. I don't mind other people building them, but the way things go together and are made is interesting to me; I like that a lot."

Judd made his studio in New York his primary work space. For a short time he live and worked all over, including a short residency in Des Moines, Iowa. Although he loved the Mid-West, he knew he needed to live in New York. Although this was his primary studio, he also took a residence in Marfa, Texas in 1972. He lived between Texas and New York until his death in 1994.

Mr. Mike Burgher * PO Box 247 * Dallas Center, Iowa. 50063