Judd at Christie’s

I was wrong. When I came back from Marfa, I was convinced

that it didn’t really matter what happened to Donald Judd’s gallery works, because

his real masterpieces are permanently installed at Marfa. But now I’ve seen

the show

at Christie’s, and it’s amazing.

Christie’s has pulled out all the stops and created a Judd exhibition of which

any museum in the world would be proud. Judd’s gallery work has never looked

as impressive, and I have to say that Christie’s official estimates are ridiculously


The plywood boxes, especially, shine in the temporary space at Rockefeller

Center: for the first time I felt I understood what Judd was getting at. The

curators of Dia:Beacon should certainly come here to take a look at how Judd

should be exhibited.

This exhibition is so good, in fact, that Tyler

is right: these works absolutely belongs in a museum, ideally together. Some

artists are never as great as they look in retrospective: their work is best

when seen in conjunction with many other pieces by the same artist. Warhol is

a prime example. Other artists, by contrast, seem monotonous in retrospective,

and the whole oeuvre is dragged down by repetition. I must admit I felt that

way at MoMA’s Pollock show. Judd, it turns out, is like Warhol, not Pollock:

if you see these works together, you’ll realise what a great artist he really


Go see this exhibition: it’s the show of the year, and it’s free. And, distressingly,

these works will never be seen together again. Really, this is a once-in-a-lifetime

opportunity. Don’t let it pass you by.

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2 Responses to Judd at Christie’s

  1. geoff says:

    do you think that the dragging sense of repetition that weighs down some retrospectives is the result of the work, or of the curation? or even the exhibition space itself?

    i find that most moma retrospectives have the curatorial insight of an art history 101 slideshow. richter, close, alto, gursky, etc. all seemed to be arranged with little more consideration than matching shapes, colors or dates. spectacular work… but essentially just slapped up onto a wall.

    the dia’s judd plywood boxes suffer from an unfortunate placement in dark alcoves.

    having not yet seen the christies exhibit, would you say the work carries itself… or the way it has been put together?

  2. Felix says:

    I’d say that the way the exhibit has been put together brings out the very best in the work. Which is really no more than any exhibition space should aspire to do.

    You’re right about the darkness at Dia. One thing that the Christie’s space and Marfa have in common is lots of light, and Judds, even plywood Judds, love light. The other thing they have is lots of space: it seems clear to me now that the Judds at Dia are crowded, and not allowed to breathe.

    Judds are hard to exhibit: even Judd himself had difficulty doing so, as a tour of the Judd Foundation in Marfa (not to be confused with the Chinati Foundation, of course) will show. The gallery pieces at Christie’s actually look much better than the gallery pieces installed by Judd in his own studio.

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