Donald Judd was an American artist associated with minimalism, cited as one of the most important artists in post-world war II America. He rejected the contemporary idea of art that it was to express philosophical ideas and be inherently abstract. Rudd sought to repudiate this notion and establish his own idea of art; that it was to have an inherent physical presence and be straightforward without making any abstract statements. This earned him many accolades and critics, as well as inspiring a whole generation of artists.
Minimalism is a school of thought in art that seeks to use simple ideas, sounds and shapes. Minimalism began in New York in the 1960’s as a pushback against the contemporary art, which many thought had become stale and too academic; the meaning of expression had been lost.
Minimalist artists wanted to get rid of the excessive implications in art at the time, which left much down to the viewer’s interpretation and instead wanted to make objects that stood out on their own without alluding to anything.
Minimalists disassociated themselves with any metaphors in their art or suggestion of biography. The object was the main attraction and it was made clear in their art.
They also distanced themselves from the accepted notion amongst contemporary artists of the time that there was a distinction between sculpture and painting. This garnered minimalists a lot of criticism in the artist community.
Donald Judd’s work
Donald Judd is often referred to as one of the pioneers of the minimalist movement within art. Ironically Judd hated the label and disassociated himself with the term. In 1964 Judd wrote an essay title ‘’specific object’’ which many claim laid the groundwork for the minimalist movement.
In the essay Judd rejected the abstract notions of art at the time and presented his own vision of what art represented which was a ‘real space’. Judd established a vocabulary of sorts such as ‘stacks’, ‘boxes’ and ‘progressions’. Judd incorporated many techniques into his art that distinguished him from his contemporaries, who did not hold his minimalistic views.
For example, he placed his work directly on the floor, as opposed to art being place upon a plinth. He claimed that this confronted the viewer’s material existence. Judd also incorporated the use of high finished, industrial materials such as iron and steel to give his work a professional look whereas the abstract artists of the time went for a personal aesthetic.
Donald Judd was one of the main pioneers of the minimalistic movement, and his work continues to inspire artists around the world to this day. He pushed back against the artistic ideals of the time to a philosophy he thought better suited the contemporary world, and his work still continues to influence the post-modernist art.