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where nihilism is the new structuralism
Donald Judd: Man of the Modernist Mystique? (or modernist bs?) 
11th-May-2006 11:30 am
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(Donald Judd piece on far right, surrounded by other famous minimalist pieces I don't know the names of)


I've been a mildly warm, some-what enthusiastic fan of Donald Judd for the past 4 or 5 years. But, I've never really been that "in" to the kind of minimal-sculptural... stuff, that his art gets categorized into. Recently in a class, we talked about how, and I hadn't been aware of this until now, he was really into the 60s zen wave and would claim that his pieces were all about that.

It's not that I don't believe it- more so, I just don't think that whatever it was that he claimed the pieces were about even matters. His work is sculpture, but in a very modern architecture-influenced sort of way (they're like cute little Mies Van der Rohe pop art replicas- painted cool colors and illuminated). However, that view that I have towards him, that it doesn't even matter what he was thinking, is both, a very modern mindset towards viewing art, and not something I apply to most of the art that I study.

Theory aside, the art speaks for itself: you either like it or you don't. If you like 90' angles and basic euclidean geometric elements, then you probably will. If your sculptural taste veers more towards the curvilinear and you like pieces to be more than one color, then you might not. If you like objective art with a narrative, then don't waste your time looking at the pictures under the cut.

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here are some other sites that give nice, brief commentaries on his art/aesthetic philosophy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Judd

http://www.walkerart.org/archive/F/AD7379EFF90772606175.htm

http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/exhibitions/judd/

http://www.guggenheimcollection.org/site/artist_bio_70.html

http://www.artsconnected.org/artsnetmn/whatsart/judd.html

Comments 
11th-May-2006 07:13 pm (UTC)
I like minimalism, but I have to be in the mood for it. Thank you for all the links!

Earlier today I went to IKEA and that might have tainted my view of these pieces, because my first thought was "Wonder how many books I could fit in there." :)
11th-May-2006 07:27 pm (UTC)
ha ha ha, that's great! actually, the IKEA thing is a really good point: Donald Judd might have been one of the firsts to do this stuff, but, then what? It's so easy to mass produce! However, that's also what the original goals behind the "original" (and I mean like 1920s/30s Bauhaus modernist design- since by the time Judd was doing this stuff, it was already an homage to stuff done like 30 years earlier) modern sculptural products: nice design; easy mass-production.

I love IKEA for their extremely modernist (but cheap knock-off) furniture. But it's kind of funny how you can go see Donald Judd works in famous galleries and here about people buying them for like 10-fucking-million dollars (no joke), but then find something suspiciously similar in a trendy warehouse store. I don't know, but, I do know that I have enough basic shop skills that I could make these kinds of pieces myself: the illuminated ones would make nice lamps in my apartment. :)
11th-May-2006 08:28 pm (UTC)
I was just thinking that a row of cube lights might look really nice on the stairs. :)

The 'I want/could do this myself' - effect is one of the big reasons why I love moderism and minimalism. Old masters are gorgeous and all, but it's the moderist stuff that inspires me personally more. You get a feeling that producing art is something everybody can do and should do, which is why I'll always defend it. (Apart from the fact that the stuff's beautiful, of course.)

It's always amused me slightly that Bauhaus and American Expressionism are in such high regard, while Minimalism and Pop Art is often ridiculed. (In the media, not within the art industry itself of course) My personal theory is that these earlier movement sort of led the way in the 'hey, it's expression, you can do it. get involved' thing. The movements that developed later got the backlash of that, the 'they're all just pointless amateurs', which is rather sad to me.

... wow, I went off on a bit of a tangent there. Feel free to ignore me. :D
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