A Minimal Master Goes Messy
A drawing from 1970 by Donald Judd – the Minimalist master of the hard, clean line, going messy on paper. I saw the sheet in a show at Sprueth Magers gallery that was totally engrossing. It reinforced the notion that the pure idea behind a Judd – a simple list of a sculpture’s dimensions, its materials, its color – matters as much as its actual effect on our eyes once its built. The drawings could stand as the conceptual essence of each piece, with its realization in hard matter as a kind of afterthought. Or maybe it’s the other way around: Are the drawings so messy and un-Judd-like because only the finished object matters, in all its perfection? Earlier stages don’t have to foreshadow that perfection, so long as they get the raw idea of the object across to a fabricator. Those are the two poles in Judd interpretation: Judd as a radical conceptualist, and Judd as a maker of perceptual abstractions. There’s still no way to decide between them.