After working in painting throughout the 1950s, Donald Judd considered this work from 1961 to be his first relief. In a 1972 interview with art historian Barbara Rose, in which Rose asked, “Was there any specific source for your beginning to make objects?,” Judd responded that his object making “came out of the paintings very much. There is one early relief that’s earlier than that. It’s actually four small brown paintings joined with a red cross in between them; it’s recessed. So it was actually a relief.”1

In his 1985 essay “Symmetry,” Judd wrote of this work: “In one relief, done at the time of the paintings, the vertical rectangle is divided into quarters, each brown, by a recessed cross painted cadmium red light. Quartering is symmetrical and practical and in the last five years I’ve used it for gates, doors, and windows.”2

1 Barbara Rose, interview with Donald Judd for the film American Art in the 1960s(dir. Michael Blackwood), 1972, audio, Michael Blackwood Collection, Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
2 Donald Judd, “Symmetry” (1985), in Donald Judd Writings, ed. Flavin Judd and Caitlin Murray (New York: Judd Foundation and David Zwirner Books, 2016), 421.

Selected Bibliography

Smith, Brydon, ed. Donald Judd: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Objects, and Wood-Blocks 1960–1974. Exh. cat. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1975, 20, 22, 46 (exh. cat. no. 46), 106 (DSS cat. no. 22).

Kellein, Thomas. Donald Judd. Early Work 1955–1968. Exh. cat. New York: D.A.P., 2002, 78 (ill.), 154.

Judd, Donald. Donald Judd Writings. Ed. Flavin Judd and Caitlin Murray. New York: Judd Foundation and David Zwirner Books, 2016, 938 (image 91).