Pre-lockdown March in New York was a fertile period for exhibitions and experiences and at the time I was lucky enough to see MOMA’s Donald Judd exhibition. The show is a comprehensive demonstration of this powerhouse of contemporary art and has just reopened for viewing on reserved timed tickets through to January 2021. Incredibly for such an influential artist, the retrospective is his first in the city for over 30 years.
When I first encountered Judd at the original Saatchi Gallery as a student in 1985, I was mesmerised. Since then I’ve seen a huge amount of his work, but never on the thoroughness and scale of the MOMA show where even they struggle with works that almost exceed the gallery space available. As a self-confessed sketchbook addict I always gravitate towards those as they give such insight. I was particularly fascinated by the RAL colour chart collages and little maquettes for some of his greatest pieces. I’ll never view those limiting colour ranges in the same light again!
Tightly curated, the exhibition of 70 works is a genuinely beautiful installation and demonstrates how from his earliest pieces Judd refused to be bound by traditional orthodoxies. His 2-dimensional woodcuts are so graphically contemporary, it is hard to fathom that many were made more than half a century ago. His painted three-dimensional works are untitled and lacking in the references you’d normally use to anchor the work as ‘sculpture’ – a term that Judd continuously refused to accept, much as he hated the term ‘minimalism’.
It’s a show that that I highly recommended and no doubt the quieter galleries created by timed access will create the perfect opportunity to see it.