Donald Judd hated being called a minimalist and this mini retrospective proves why it’s wrong to saddle him with the label. The American artist, who died in 1994, thought minimalism ‘reductionist’ and if you look past the linearity of his forms, you discover there’s nothing reductionist about Judd’s work – it’s actually very generous.
He experimented with a wide variety of materials including plywood, aluminium, iron, steel and Plexiglas that were often brightly coloured. Working closely with his fabricators, he worried about the minute details, so the screws were considered as important as the material they were going into. Judd was also concerned with the spatial aspect of his work and was frequently disappointed when curators didn't take into account the importance of where the sculptures were installed.
Luckily this exhibition has been considerately curated by his son Flavin Judd. Works from different periods are shown next to each other creating a dialogue between differing sculptures. A very early floor work made of galvanised iron, ‘Untitled, July 6’ (1964), lends a complimentary spicy orange to an aquamarine Plexiglas and steel version of his iconic vertical stacks, ‘Untitled (Bernstein 89-1)’, from 1989. Despite the 25-year gap their creation, these pieces meet on mutual terrain, showing the consistency of Judd’s concerns.
As the first presentation of the sculptor in London since his Tate retrospective nine years ago, this exhibition shows the breadth of this artist’s career in a mere nine works. If you don’t know Judd’s work, it’s the perfect introduction and if you do, it’s the perfect excuse to take an extra long lunch break.