Columbians Ahead of Their Time
 Donald Clarence Judd
Donald Clarence Judd

© The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

"A shape, a volume, a color, a surface is something itself. It shouldn't be concealed as part of a fairly different whole."

Donald Clarence Judd (1928–94)
Artist and critic
GS 1953, GSAS 1957–61

A leading American artist of the postwar period, Donald Judd was renowned for his use of such materials as plywood, Plexiglas, sheet aluminum, copper, and steel. Often described as a "minimalist"—a term he detested—Judd was also an influential art critic who disdained the reduction of art to what he called "isms." Judd began painting and writing articles for ARTnews in 1959, and in 1960 became a contributing editor for Arts Magazine. He resigned in 1965 over what he thought was poor editing of his copy, an example of the perfectionism that was a constant throughout his life. Around 1962 Judd started creating sculpture (another term he avoided) with industrial materials. Rather than constructing his work personally, he had it industrially fabricated—a practice criticized at the time but emulated today by many contemporary artists. In 1972 Judd moved to the town of Marfa, Texas, where he bought and renovated a series of buildings in which to create and showcase his own work, along with that of others. By the mid-1980s he was designing furniture for sale to the general public. In early 2004, London's Tate Modern gallery mounted an exhibition billed as the first substantial retrospective of Judd's work in three dimensions since 1988, and the first to trace his career up to his death from lymphoma in 1994.

Judd received a bachelor's degree from the School of General Studies in 1953, majoring in philosophy, and returned to Columbia four years later to study art history. By then, he had started to create art and write. He left graduate school after four years—without earning his degree—to continue his artistic and literary pursuits.

Read more about Judd in the Columbia Encyclopedia.


The 2004 exhibition


The Department of Art History and Archaeology


School of the Arts

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