Born in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, Donald Judd became an artist whose writings and works were crucial to the emergence of a new form of three-dimensional art, which he referred to as “specific objects.” His legacy is that of simplicity, “all of art history pared down to the basic geometric module of a box made of industrial materials” (ARTNews 5/99). He rejected the symbolism and emotive work of the abstract expressionists, based on free-wheeling use of color, and injected industrial materials as art.
He is widely known for his “stacks,” units with which from 1963 he developed a vocabulary of colored metals and plexiglass. The stacks are installed so that the spaces between the units are the same dimension as the units themselves, forcing a reading of positive and negative space. These free- standing sculptures were simple forms without bases and were made from wood and metal. They were easy to understand and imparted a sense of order, a unification that existed only for itself.
Judd earned a B. S. in philosophy “cum laude” from Columbia University in 1953, and also did course work there towards an MFA but never finished the final thesis. He attended the Art Students League in New York from 1948 to 1953, and then had a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He also won the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture.
In May, 1999 “ARTNews” magazine featured him as one of the top twenty-five influential artists of the western world and credit him with expanding “the boundaries among art, architecture, furniture, and design” . . .
“ARTNews”, May 1999
Biography from the Archives of AskART.