Installation view of the exhibition Judd, March 1, 2020 - January 9, 2021. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Digital Image © 2022 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Jonathan Muzikar

“I had always considered my work another activity of some kind…. I certainly didn’t think I was making sculpture.”

Donald Judd

Donald Judd is a landmark figure in the history of postwar art. In the 1950s, he studied philosophy and art history and took classes at the Art Students League in New York. He was first publicly recognized as an art critic, writing reviews for Arts magazine from 1959–65. It was during this time that he developed from an abstract painter into the producer of the hollow, rectilinear volumes for which he became well known. Key to this transformation was his essay “Specific Objects,” written in 1964 and published the following year in Arts Yearbook 8. The text celebrated a new kind of artwork untethered from the traditional frameworks of painting and sculpture, focusing instead on an investigation of “real space,” or three dimensions, using commercial materials and an emphasis on whole, unified shapes.

In 1964 Judd turned to professional sheet-metal fabricators to make his work out of galvanized iron, aluminum, stainless steel, brass, and copper. This effectively removed from the artist’s studio any hands-on art making, a shift that would hold great importance for the then-rising generation of Conceptual artists, who held that ideas themselves, exempt from any materialization, can exist as art. In the mid-to-late 1960s, Judd produced and exhibited a large number of his iconic forms. These range from what are referred to as “stacks”, which are hung at even intervals from floor to ceiling; “progressions", whose measurements follow simple numerical sequences; bull-nosed shaped protrusions from the wall; and box-like forms that are installed directly on the floor. This sculptural vocabulary continued to serve as a basic foundation from which Judd developed many versions—in varied combinations of metals, colored Plexiglas, and plywood—until his death in 1994.

In 1968 Judd purchased a five-story living and working space in New York’s Soho neighborhood. Several years later, he would take up residence in Marfa, Texas, where he was drawn to the Chihuahuan Desert landscape and sparse population. In both New York and Texas, he designed his homes to include permanent installations of his work, alongside that of peers such as Larry Bell, John Chamberlain, Dan Flavin, and others. In Marfa, this project eventually grew, with the financial help of the fledgling Dia Art Foundation, into a large-scale, multi-building museum now called The Chinati Foundation. Judd’s deliberate installations, and the sculptures that he created, indicate that he considered space itself to be a material just as essential as the industrial surfaces out of which his objects were constructed. Architecture and design also greatly interested him, and his activities extended to preserving and repurposing existing buildings, and to furniture design and printmaking. Throughout his life, Judd continued to publish articles advocating the value of critical thought and the importance of artists to society.

Note: Opening quote is from John Coplans, “An Interview with Don Judd,” Artforum, Summer 1971.

Annie Ochmanek, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture, 2017

Wikipedia entry
Donald Clarence Judd (June 3, 1928 – February 12, 1994) was an American artist associated with minimalism. In his work, Judd sought autonomy and clarity for the constructed object and the space created by it, ultimately achieving a rigorously democratic presentation without compositional hierarchy. He is generally considered the leading international exponent of "minimalism", and its most important theoretician through such writings as "Specific Objects" (1964). Judd voiced his unorthodox perception of minimalism in Arts Yearbook 8, where he says, "The new three dimensional work doesn't constitute a movement, school, or style. The common aspects are too general and too little common to define a movement. The differences are greater than the similarities."
Information from Wikipedia, made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
Getty record
Donald Judd studied extensively in painting, sculpture, and art theory at the Art Students League, the College of William and Mary, and Columbia University, where he received his degree in philosophy in 1953 and his MA in art history in 1962. Judd's paintings focused on simplified composition while avoiding personal expression and spatial illusion. He wrote art criticisms and essays, and moved primarily to sculpture by the end of the 1970s to enhance his ideals of using real space, emphasizing geometric simplicity.
Artist, Author, Architect, Writer, Installation Artist, Painter, Sculptor
Donald Judd, Don Judd, Donald Clarence Judd, Donarudo Jaddo
Information from Getty’s Union List of Artist Names ® (ULAN), made available under the ODC Attribution License


80 works online



  • Judd Exhibition catalogue, Hardcover, 304 pages
  • MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art Flexibound, 408 pages
  • MoMA Now: Highlights from The Museum of Modern Art—Ninetieth Anniversary Edition Hardcover, 424 pages



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