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European & American Art
Sculpture Gallery gallery

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Donald JUDD

United States of America 1928 – 1994

[Six boxes] 1974 Creation Notes: manufactured by the Bernstein Brothers, New York, 17 October 1974
Sculpture, brass
Technique: 6 units
Primary Insc: No inscriptions
installation 101.6 h x 736.6 w x 101.6 d cm
each 101.6 h x 101.6 w x 101.6 d cm
Purchased 1975
Accession No: NGA 75.150.A-F
© Donald Judd/VAGA. Licensed by Viscopy

  • Gian Enzo Sperone Gallery, New York;
  • from whom bought by the Australian National Gallery, September 1975
  • Six big brass cubes stand in a row on the floor with identical spaces between them. Immediately the ideas of repetition and manufacture arise: they are an industrial unit that the artist repeats. Without the bases or plinths of traditional sculpture they appear naked and exposed. ‘Literalist’ was a term applied at the time of their making, to emphasise the work of art’s existence as a made physical object. ‘Minimalist’ has been the term most often used for art in which the elements have been reduced to just one or two. It becomes a kind of game in which artists say they will make something so plain that the only beauty is in the material itself.

    On closer acquaintance, the highly polished surfaces of this sculpture acquire a golden opulence. People find themself reflected in the mirror-like finishes, so that they become part of the work. As they walk around it, their legs and feet create a drama of their own. For Donald Judd the secret of art is what we bring to it, what we add to it, and that is one reason why people can find this sculpture so mystifying and so engaging.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008