Donald Judd
USA, 1928
USA, 1994
Donald Judd was a key figure of Minimalism, probably the art form that has had the greatest influence on art and aesthetics over the last thirty years. His work, which combines a basic geometry with industrial materials, revolutionised the traditional concept of sculpture and questioned the manual nature of the artist's work. Judd studied philosophy at the University of Columbia (1949-1953) and art at the Art Students League in New York (1948-1953). In 1957 he returned to the university to do an MA in art history with teachers as well-known as Meyer Shapiro and Rudolf Wittkower. His artistic career had begun with painting, but in the early sixties he expressed his dissatisfaction with the medium for its inherent illusionism and subjective properties and began to work in three dimensions, creating what he called "specific objects", objects which could only be considered in themselves, since they did not represent anything else. By then he had acquired a reputation as an art critic -in 1959 he began to write for Art News, between 1960 and 1965 he was editor of Arts Magazine, and after that he wrote for Art International-, defending the emergence of a new art which focused on the formal qualities of the work. For him it was not a matter of a reduction of interests in art -which is why he always rejected the term "Minimalist"- but of a new attitude which, like his own, understood that art can only express what can be empirically verified, in other words, form, colour, surface and volume. From that period his work has been notable for its refined forms and elegant precision and for its technical rigour, though also for its sensuality, which can be particularly appreciated in his exquisite treatment of materials and colours, and, lastly, its studied relation with the architectural space where it is placed. The relation with space came to be a concern which reached its highest expression in Marfa, Texas, where in 1972 he bought a ranch and a number of buildings on a deserted military base, which he turned into his residence and one of the most impressive permanent exhibition spaces for large art installations. There he set up his work and that of other artists just as he thought they should be seen. The space was opened to the public in 1986 after being constituted as the Chinati Foundation. Until his death in 1964 he exhibited in the leading galleries and museums in the United States and Europe and won a number of distinctions and awards.
Nimfa Bisbe