woodcut in cadmium red
23 5/8 in. x 31 1/2 in. (60.01 cm x 80.01 cm)
Henry Melville Fuller Fund,
Donald Judd’s Untitled, 1988
is a series of ten woodblock prints featuring cadmium red geometric shapes set against unprimed, pale yellow Japanese paper. The first work in the series shows a red rectangle centered on the plain background; the second reverses the color placement to show a plain square in the center with a red band framing it. In the third work in the series, the red rectangle is bisected; the fourth repeats the color reversal, with a neutral center and a bisected red framing edge. The prints are individually numbered and arranged in sequence—often horizontally in pairs—so that the viewer experiences this developing formal pattern either consciously or subconsciously. Close inspection of the surfaces of the works in this series reveals striations in the red paint that allude to the woodblock process. Along with the biological, cell-like division and reproduction of the color fields, this disrupts the initial impression of mechanically reproduced, two-dimensional forms.
Context and Analysis
The ten works stand individually as meditations on the essential qualities of color and form; taken together, they work to investigate repetition. While these ideas are trademarks of the loose art-historical movement called Minimalism, Judd actively resisted using this term to describe his practice. Instead, he preferred his own formulation, specific objects
Judd used cadmium red in both his two-dimensional and three-dimensional works from the earliest stages of his career. 2 He learned woodblock printing from his father, Roy Clarence Judd. 3 Although he made prints throughout his lifetime, Donald Judd felt that “few people are interested in them. They are not big and heroic enough . . . They are only paper.” 4 He used the process of printmaking as a site for experimentation directly linked to his work in three dimensions. The reproducibility of prints, he felt, paralleled the industrial processes and materials of his sculpture, the works for which he is best known.
The artist created this series of cadmium woodblock prints as he experimented with color and form, creating two other, identical series in ivory black and ultramarine blue. There is a sense of internal scale, as each print in the series constantly refers to the others, rather than to the viewer or any external marker of size. Judd eliminates any traditional kind of spatial illusion, while remaining very attached to the picture plane, as the geometric shapes describe the space in which they are painted.
In 1966 Judd came to Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire, as a visiting artist and taught there for a year. Judd revered the work of Josef Albers, the well-known Bauhaus artist. Albers’s work is represented in the Currier Museum collection by the paintings Light Blue in Red and Black Frame Against Green
(1957; Currier, 1962.18
) and Homage to the Square: Early Rising I
(1961; Currier, 1961.7
). Both Judd and Albers experimented with the simultaneously quantifiable and illusory nature of their chosen tools: abstract, geometric form and vibrant color. Judd acknowledged his debt to the older artist in his 1994 text Some Aspects of Color in General and Red and Black in Particular
: “Color is knowledge. As Albers says, it is very subjective, even hard to remember. Color is also objective.” 5
Written by Michelle Millar Fisher
1“Mr. Judd disliked the word Minimalist, calling himself ‘an empiricist’ when pressed, and refused to call his work sculpture because he thought that implied carving.” See http://www.nytimes.com/1994/02/13/obituaries/donald-judd-leading-minimalist-sculptor-dies-at-65.html and http://www.nortonsimon.org/collections/browse_artist.php?name=Judd%2C+Donald&resultnum=2 and also http://www.juddfoundation.org/generalinformation.
2 His first three-dimensional work, in 1962, DSS 29
, was painted with cadmium red.
3 Judd made woodblocks in the 1960s from which his father pulled series of prints for sale. They were exhibited at Donald Judd’s second solo show, at the Greene Gallery in New York in 1963–64.
4 Judd and Fuchs 2004, 23.
5 See http://www.pacegallery.com/newyork/exhibitions/11749/josef-albers-donald-judd-form-and-color.
Haskell, Barbara. Donald Judd
. Exh. cat. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1988.
Judd, Donald. Complete Writings, 1959–1975: Gallery Reviews, Book Reviews, Articles, Letters to the Editor, Reports, Statements, Complaints
. Halifax, N.S.: Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1975.
Judd, Donald. “Specific Objects.” 1964. Published in Arts Yearbook 8
(1965). Reprinted in Thomas Kellein, Donald Judd: Early Works 1955–1968
, exh. cat. (New York: D.A.P., 2002).
Judd, Donald, and Rudi Fuchs. Donald Judd, Large-scale Works
. New York: PaceWildenstein, 2004.
Judd, Donald, and Jörg Schellmann. Donald Judd: Prints and Works in Editions: A Catalogue Raisonné
. Cologne: Schellmann, 1993.
Judd, Donald, and Nicholas Serota. Donald Judd
. New York: D.A.P., 2004.
Raskin, David, and Donald Judd. Donald Judd
. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010.
Smith, Brydon, and Donald Judd. Donald Judd: A Catalogue of the Exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 24 May–6 July, 1975: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Objects, and Wood Blocks, 1960–1974
. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1975.
Stockebrand, Marianne, Donald Judd, and Rudi Fuchs. Chinati: The Vision of Donald Judd.
Marfa, TX: Chinati Foundation, 2010.
Wylie, Charles. “Sequential Geometry: Prints by Judd, Kelly, Levine & Schuyff.” Print Collector’s Newsletter
26, no. 6 (January–February 1996).
Purchased by Currier Museum of Art, 2005