Roberta Smith gets the front page of the NYT arts section today to gush over the Donald Judd installation at Christie’s. She’s much less worked up than Tyler Green was over the fact that the Judds aren’t going to museums:
Judd might have viewed the sale with a certain pragmatic equanimity. I worked for him briefly in the early 1970’s, mostly on his catalogue raisonné. He remarked more than once that one purpose of his smaller, portable sculptures was to make money to pay for larger projects.
The foundation Judd mandated in his will is a very large project. He might even have liked the bold gesture of one big, widely publicized get-it-over-with auction. Besides, he famously hated museums, especially American ones.
Tyler’s response to Smith is so weak he essentially concedes the point to her. I’m sure that Smith, like Tyler, in an ideal world would like to have seen the Judd Foundation raise the money in a more considered way. But I’m inclined to agree with Smith’s more sanguine view of the sale, if only because Christie’s has proved that private institutions are clearly capable of showing Judds in a much better way than any museum. Sold to private collectors, these Judds might well get purpose-built permanent homes, instead of being thrown up willy-nilly on a wall without daylight as part of an incoherent 20th Century collection somewhere.
In any case, anybody who’s been to Marfa can understand why the Judd foundation is a little on the dysfunctional side of things: Donald Judd was an egomaniac who treated his children really quite dreadfully. Since those children now run his foundation, one can hardly expect the foundation to be a beacon of art-world best practices.