The eleven paintings that Donald Judd installed at the Cobb House, including this one, all date from between 1956 and 1958. Judd exhibited paintings from the same period in two shows at the Panoras Gallery in New York, Don Judd and Nathan Raisen (September 4–15, 1956) and Don Judd (June 24–July 6, 1957).
In a 1968 interview with Lucy R. Lippard, Judd described some of his early encounters with making art, noting that “for about a year in Omaha, the second time, when I was ten or eleven, I studied art 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.”1
Later, Judd began his studies at the Art Students League in New York in 1950, commuting from his parents’ home in New Jersey to take classes during the day at the league, while studying at Columbia University in the evening. Judd painted throughout this period, and although he stopped painting after 1962, painting informed the rest of his career as an artist: “My thought comes from painting even if I don’t paint.”2
In her essay in Judd’s 1975 catalogue raisonné, Roberta Smith wrote of the abstract forms in these paintings, “The irregular shapes themselves are difficult to describe and look as if Judd took great care to make them that way.”3
1 Lucy R. Lippard, interview with Donald Judd, 1968, audio and transcript, Lucy R. Lippard papers, 1930s–2010, bulk 1960s–1990, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
2 “Interview: Kasper König und Donald Judd,” in Donald Judd: Für Josef Albers, exh. cat. (Bottrop: Moderne Galerie Bottrop, 1977), 5. English transcript, Judd Foundation Archives, Marfa, Texas.
3 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), 8.
Smith, Brydon, ed. Donald Judd: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Objects, and Wood-Blocks 1960–1974. Exh. cat. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1975, 9 (fig. 4).