An Early Handmade Chair
Few contemporary artists have been as rigorous and tightly focused as Donald Judd (1928-94), who spent most of his creative life refining a few simple geometrical forms in wood and metal. To free himself from dependence on galleries and museums, he renovated a five-story cast-iron warehouse in SoHo and purchased a former army base in Marfa—retreats where he could create and display permanent installations of his work. He established a foundation that has restored the studio/residence on Spring Street, and maintains the sprawling sheds at Marfa. There and at Dia:Beacon, one can immerse oneself in the private world of this obsessive artist.
There is human-scale and no-nonsense thinking and rationality at the heart of the Judd philosophy. A sculptor, architect, and writer, among other things, Judd was thorough, definite, and complete in his life as well as his work.
Like the pioneer modernists who designed furniture because there was nothing suitable in the market, Judd began making chairs and tables in 1973 to furnish his living space at Marfa. The subtly varied pieces have an affinity to his artworks, but Judd refused to admit the resemblance. “The configuration and the scale of art cannot be transposed into furniture and architecture,” he declared. “The intent of art is different from that of the latter, which must be functional. If a chair or a building is not functional, if it appears to be only art, it is ridiculous. The art of a chair is not its resemblance to art, but is partly its reasonableness, usefulness and scale as a chair...A work of art exists as itself; a chair exists as a chair itself.”
The art of a chair is not its resemblance to art, but is partly its reasonableness, usefulness and scale as a chair... A work of art exists as itself; a chair exists as a chair itself.