Despite being considered the leading artist of the minimalist movement, Judd, who worked at the intersection of art, architecture, and design, eschewed the label. When the minimalist aesthetic first emerged in the 1960s, some critics had snarkier names for it: “ABC,” “Boring,” or “No-Art Nihilism,” for example.
Initially, the lack of clear meaning in Judd's chunks of Plexiglas stumped and frustrated many viewers. But it didn’t prevent hundreds of books from being written about the philosophy of the work, including the artist’s own "Specific Objects" in 1964. “Actual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint on a flat surface,” he wrote.
"Judd’s ideas about sculpture existing in our own, real space, and his interest in highlighting the shifting relationship between viewer, artwork, and architecture, have been hugely influential," says Rajaratnam. "His insistence on removing the mark of the artist’s hand from an artwork, and his belief that an artist could conceive of a form then have it materially executed by professional fabricators, is also a concept so widely accepted now that one forgets that in 1965, it was virtually unheard of."
After Judd’s death in 1994, devotees made bumper stickers printed with “WWDJD? (What would Donald Judd do?)” and plastered them all over the town of Marfa, Texas, where their messiah lived and worked. Judd's giant boxy sculptures bask in the desert there like stripped-down thoroughly modern cathedrals, and have helped turn the town into a top destination for art tourism. Fans are sure to flock to New York’s Upper East Side for the Mnuchin Gallery’s new exhibition.
The show coincides with the recent opening of Judd’s home and studio on 101 Spring Street after a $23 million renovation.
Stacks is on view through December 7, 2013.