Editors’ Notes

Editors’ Notes

Quotes by Donald Judd have been included to provide insight into the artist’s experiences and views on a range of topics. These include his working process, art (his own and that of others), architecture, politics, culture, society, and the natural world. Quotes are drawn from his writings, interview transcripts, and the Judd Foundation Archives. Readers are referred to source materials in citations throughout the Chronology. Read a selection of Judd’s essays.

Within the Chronology, exhibition summaries are provided from 1963 through 1994. The summaries trace the number and types of Judd’s gallery and museum exhibitions across thirty years, charting his growing reputation from emerging artist and critic in New York City to one of the most recognized and influential international artists of our time. These summaries are subject to change due to ongoing research. Explore a larger compilation of Judd’s exhibitions.

The glossary of vernacular terms for works lists shorthand terms developed
 by Judd to communicate within his studio practice to reference types of objects. Discover the glossary of vernacular terms.

View works permanently installed by the artist at Judd Foundation in the Index of Works.

Chapter Lead Images

Image: Donald Judd, c. 1930s. Photo courtesy Flavin Judd.
Image: Donald Judd, c. 1940s. Photo courtesy Rainer Judd.
Image: Donald Judd with Flavin Judd, Los Angeles, c. early 1970s. Photo courtesy Rainer Judd.
Image: Donald Judd, Marfa, Texas, June 1976. Photo Jamie Dearing © Judd Foundation.
Image: Donald Judd, Marfa, Texas, 1993. Photo © Laura Wilson.



William C. Agee and Elita Agee
Peter Ballantine
Heidi Colsman-Freyberger
Jamie Dearing
Dudley Del Balso
Jenny Dixon
Julie Finch
Richard Griggs
John Jerome
Flavin Judd
Jana La Brasca
Glenn Madrid
Wendy Perron



Editors: Rainer Judd, Xavier McFarlin, Ellen Meyer

Copyeditor: Clare Fentress, Caitlin Murray

Site Design: CHIPS

Image Research & Production: Andrea Walsh, Emma Whelan



Judd Foundation. “Donald Judd Chronology.” Last modified November 2022. https://juddfoundation.org/chronology

Unless otherwise noted, all images are courtesy Judd Foundation Archives or copyright Judd Foundation.


Donald Clarence Judd is born on June 3 in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, to Effie (née Cowsert) and Roy Clarence Judd. His mother is a typist before becoming a homemaker, and his father is a manager for Western Union Telegraph Company. Over the next sixteen years, the family moves frequently due to Roy’s work, living in Omaha; Kansas City; Des Moines, Iowa; Dallas; Philadelphia; and Westwood, New Jersey. Judd spends each summer at his grandparents’ farm in Missouri, where he bonds with his maternal grandmother, Iona “Onie” Electra Stapleton Cowsert.

Image: Donald Judd's grandparents, Robert Frank Cowsert and Iona Stapleton Cowsert.

Judd’s sister, Marcia, is born in Omaha.


Judd receives his first formal art training in an art class “with a woman who had a little, very minute school downtown in Omaha. I copied things out of books and did a few watercolors out the window and things like that. . . . All I knew about, really, were various Old Masters . . . from reading The Book of Knowledge or looking through portfolios that the Omaha World Herald put out; it had mostly Old Masters, and Curry and Benton and Jon Corbino. They had a few Americans. It was that sort. I think maybe they had a Matisse and a Picasso. . . . I was very interested in it, except my idea of art was a very archaic one, because all the things reproduced were old European paintings.”

Image: Donald Judd, untitled, 1939, watercolor and pencil on paper.

Judd almost fails eighth-grade art class in Philadelphia: “[The teacher] wanted us to do a poster on the war, and I didn’t want to do posters. . . . I didn’t want to deal with the lettering on top of the picture, or something like that. So it was semester-long fight . . . in which I got a D.”


The Judd family moves to Westwood, New Jersey, where Judd completes the last few years of high school. Roberta Smith notes of Judd’s artistic interests during this period, “Throughout his high-school years his drawings were mostly landscapes based on magazine photographs. They were done in pastels whose strong colours he liked.”


Judd graduates from Westwood High School. He immediately enlists in the United States Army to take advantage of the GI Bill, which is soon to expire. This decision allows his parents to fund Marcia’s college education.

In December, Judd sees the American Southwest for the first time while traveling from boot camp in Fort McClellan, Alabama, to San Francisco. En route, he writes his mother a telegram: “DEAR MOM VAN HORN TEXAS. 1260 POPULATION. NICE TOWN BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY MOUNTAINS – LOVE DON 1946 DEC 17 P 5 45.”


For over a year, Judd is stationed in Korea, where he is assigned to the United States Army Corps of Engineers. His company surveys an airport landing strip, and Judd supervises the construction of prefabricated buildings. “This engineering company was almost independent of anything. I was very lucky; I had been badly mistreated by the army for six months, so I was surprised by all this. They asked me what I wanted to do. Of course, drafting seemed the most interesting. . . . We worked with Korean construction companies who did most of the building. I learned what I could so that I could act smart when the officers turned up; they knew even less than I did about it all. I’d try to explain what was getting done. For a long time, I was in charge of installing all of the pipes and boilers and everything else in a big boiler plant.” This practical experience, coupled with the opportunity to study local building design, sparks what will be a lifelong interest in architecture.

Image: US Army transport Admiral H.T. Mayo traveling from Korea to Seattle, Washington, Nov 10, 1947.

“While I was in the army in 1947, helping to occupy Korea, before going to college,” Judd later writes of this time, “my assignment to myself was to decide between being an architect or an artist, which to me was being a painter. Art was the most likely in the balance, but the decisive weight was that in architecture it was necessary to deal with the clients and the public. This seemed impossible to me, as did the business of a firm.”

Judd returns to Westwood after being honorably discharged from the army on November 20.


On February 1, utilizing the GI Bill, Judd enrolls in a life painting and drawing course taught by artist and muralist Louis Bouché at the Art Students League in New York. He later takes summer courses taught by social realist painter Reginald Marsh and sculptor Burt Johnson.

In September, Judd leaves the Art Students League and attends the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, for two semesters. In his application documents, Judd had written, “Art, particularly painting and drawing, is my main interest. I should like to make Art my future work.”


Judd returns to the Art Students League, where he again studies life drawing and adds classes taught by watercolorist Bernard Klonis, anatomy instructor and curator Robert Beverly Hale, and portrait and landscape painter Louis Bosa. Over the next year, he develops a body of work in gouache and watercolor primarily using muted earth tones and blues.

Image: Donald Judd, BOSA A.M., 1952, oil on canvas, reproduced in the Art Students League 1952-1953 catalogue.


“Interview with Lucy R. Lippard and William C. Agee” (April–June 1968), in Donald Judd Interviews, ed. Flavin Judd and Caitlin Murray (New York: Judd Foundation/David Zwirner Books, 2019), 219.


“Interview with Margot Willet” (May 1968), in Donald Judd Interviews, 320.


Roberta Smith, “Donald Judd,” in Donald Judd: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Objects, and Wood-Blocks 1960–1974, ed. Brydon Smith. Exh. cat. (Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1975), 4.


Judd, “Marfa, Texas” (1985), in Donald Judd Writings, ed. Flavin Judd and Caitlin Murray (New York: Judd Foundation/David Zwirner Books, 2016), 425.


“Interview with Lucy R. Lippard and William C. Agee,” in Donald Judd Interviews, 225.


Judd, “Art and Architecture” (1987), in Donald Judd Writings, 491.


Donald Judd Papers, Judd Foundation Archives, Marfa, Texas.

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