Whoa, Nellie, this is a BIG event …. pretty much in line with the MWC tours of Grand Central, the Steinway Factory and the AIA-Boat Tour. This post is about a private, MWC-exclusive tour of the Soho home and studio of the minimalist modern art behemoth, DONALD JUDD. After opening last June the Judd Foundation was deluged with requests from all over the world to tour the space. So, wanting to make sure the MWC was able to see this as soon as possible, a tour request was made last April (yes, before it was even open) and the first date offered to us was WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2014. So, honestly, if you’re interested in this at all, respond quickly, because these spaces will go very quickly indeed.
HIS WORK WAS REVOLUTIONARY: It’s easy to look at pictures of Donald Judd’s work and feel somewhat cynical. You see a box on a printed page and you say to yourself, “What’s the big deal?” Well, if part of the point of art is to see things in new ways, Judd’s work fits the bill. Whether looking at one of his single-stack or multiple stack pieces (one of which just sold for $4.9MM) or his furniture-sized square constructions which could easily take up a chunk of a room, or his multiple room-sized concrete or steel fabrications installed in Marfa, TX, it doesn’t take long to appreciate, and experience, the impact of his work. Being in a space with one of Judd’s “specific objects” (a term he preferred to “sculpture”) makes you think not just about the piece you’re looking at – but the space around it and your relationship to it. And to actually be where many of his works were created helps you understand them in perhaps just about they only way they can be. Because you don’t merely see Judd’s works, you experience them.
SPECIFIC OBJECTS: Donald Judd died in 1994. He started as a painter in the late 1940’s and for 15 or so years he both exhibited his work and also wrote art criticism. It wasn’t until the early 1960’s that he began to work towards constructed pieces with a focus on specific materials (plywood, plexiglass, various metals and concrete) which so fascinated him that he pretty much abandoned painting and worked and re-worked these ideas for the next 30 years. As time went on, the pieces kept getting larger and Judd became obsessed with the idea of permanent installations of his work – since he felt the space around any given piece was as important as the specific object itself. Since even 45 years ago space and New York were an oxymoron, in 1968 the ever-intrepid Judd (armed with $70,000) acquired a building in the derelict, semi-abandoned, light industrial area of downtown Manhattan called Soho. After purchasing 101 Spring St. Judd went on to renovate the building floor-by-floor for his own use, installing his own pieces and those of other early 1970’s artists who were then part of the Soho art world.
FAST-FORWARD to 2013: The Judd Foundation (which includes his two children), having undertaken a meticulous restoration of the entirety of 101 Spring St., opens the building “to offer visitors direct engagement with Donald Judd’s art and vision. Judd’s formerly private living and working space provides first-hand experience of Judd’s concept of permanent installation in downtown New York.” In our present, post-Modern world, this is an unbelievably precious chance to time-travel through this incubator to a period when a radically new approach to art, space and installation was created. Yes, this is most certainly a “behind the scenes” event ! The notion of mothballing an entire chunk of very expensive Manhattan real estate for 20 years in order to provide the ultimate intimate art experience has had much of the art world holding its collective breath with some skeptics offering the opinion that this can’t last for long. Let’s hope they’re wrong – but let’s go now !
MARFA: Any discussion of Donald Judd has to refer to Marfa, TX. By the late 1970’s Judd’s work was getting still larger and he also wanted some respite from hectic NYC and an art world with which he was growing increasingly disenchanted. After touring the southwest, Judd and his family eventually rented a property in incredibly remote Marfa, TX, a town at the southwestern edge of the state. Drawn by the area’s vast, stark and serene landscape Judd purchased a ranch and then some 350 acres of desert nearby, which included some abandoned Army buildings. The setting proved to be the perfect place for permanent installations of his largest concrete and aluminum works. Judd went back and forth between New York and Marfa for the rest of his life. The CHINATI Foundation was created in Marfa in 1986 dedicated not only to Judd’s work but that of his contemporaries as well. In the intervening years a burgeoning art community has sprung up in this unexpected place. Road trip, anyone?
DETAILS: WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 22nd, 2014. The tour will start at 1pm (hey, maybe by that time there won’t be a line at the Amsel Bakery down the street and you can pick up a Cronut or two!). Tickets will be $61.50. each – since early reports of this tour have described it as “mobbed,” we’re delighted to be able to offer this as a MWC-only private tour. Family and friends are welcome. A reservation / payment link will be sent to all MWC members forthwith.