In 1962, Donald Judd created his first work in three dimensions. Made out of wood, masonite and an asphalt pipe, this freestanding piece was the first object that he exhibited. Judd followed this piece with a second freestanding piece made out of wood and a right-angled metal pipe. He would go on to create ten major works in 1963, exhibiting eight of them, three built for the wall and five for the floor, in his solo exhibition at the Green Gallery in New York. As Judd stated in an interview in 1971, “I was surprised when I made those first two freestanding pieces, to have something set out into the middle of the room. It puzzled me. On the one hand, I didn’t quite know what to make of it, and on the other, they suddenly seemed to have an enormous number of possibilities. It looked at that point and from then on that I could do anything. Anyway, I certainly didn’t think I was making sculpture.”
Not sculpture or painting, Judd characterized the qualities of this new work in a 1965 essay titled “Specific Objects.” Judd assessed the importance of the paintings of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, and Clyfford Still in the development of three-dimensional work and references the work of his contemporaries, such as Lee Bontecou, John Chamberlain, Dan Flavin, and Claes Oldenburg, among others, as examples of this new kind of art. As Judd wrote in his last published essay of 1993, “Before the right angle and its predecessor, all ‘sculpture’ was placed on a pedestal…Nothing had ever been placed directly on the floor….Since now it is common for work to be placed anywhere in a room, it is impossible for people to understand that placement on the floor and the absence of a pedestal were inventions. I invented them.”
Judd oversaw the publication of the Donald Judd: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Objects, and Wood-Blocks 1960-1974, edited by Dudley Del Balso, Brydon Smith, and Roberta Smith, on the occasion of his retrospective exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, in 1975. A comprehensive catalogue raisonné of paintings, objects, and wood-blocks is currently in the research phase.
The Chinati Foundation