Donald Judd, Ohne Titel (Stack), 1968-69. Photo by Oliver Kurmis under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Donald Judd: No Access

Many people find Minimalist art inaccessible, but that is precisely the point.

You are not supposed to read anything into the work of art. Minimalist art literally and figuratively reflects out toward a viewer, activating the space around it, creating an experience that is phenomenological rather than interpretive. This is the way that the artist, Donald Judd, was able to differentiate his art from the major art movements that preceded him, such as Abstract Expressionism, which placed a premium on personal and original expression. Donald Judd created art that was as different from Abstract Expressionism as it possibly could be.

Judd referred to his sculptures as “specific objects” and gave precise information about the dimensions and materials that he used so that he could deny a viewer from finding more in the work of art than the facts about the physical reality of the objects. The specifics about the object are related to the circumstances of their production: they are machine-made. Judd’s hand, which would represent personal inspiration, is conspicuously absent. The repetition of the boxes heightens the objective quality of the sculpture because there is no hierarchy in the composition and thus no main focus. The repetition of form also intensifies a viewer’s experience with the sculpture because it changes as a viewer moves around the surrounding space and he or she can see the sculpture from several different points of view. As it often happens with Minimalist Art, a viewer can also see him or herself reflected in the shiny metal surface, looking at the “specific object.”

Sally Coleman | The Art Minute


More works of art by Donald Judd

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One Comment

  1. roxane

    I know in light of the upcoming 10th anniversary of 9/11, I have the World Trade Center very much on my mind and in my heart right now. Is it just me, or does this piece somehow echo the towers? Ordered, shiny, strong, seemingly impenetrable… What attracts me to minimalist art is the idea that the artist generously gives us time and space for each of us to freely apply to it our own very unique combination of innate and experiential knowledge. It is intended for individual interpretation. There is no right or wrong.

    Kudos on The Art Minute! I look forward to reading more!

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