Donald Judd (1928 – 1994) was one of the foremost practitioners of minimal art. This was primarily an American movement that around 1965 designed objects using basic industrial materials such as sheet metal, wood or plywood. His works were often designed for a particular space or simply placed directly on the ground, without a plinth or base. Despite the simplicity of the materials of which they are made, the works dominate the space around them.
Judd started his career as a painter but came to the fore as a minimal artist from around 1965 onwards. He sought to achieve an intermediate form in which colour could be combined with pure form.
His sculptures consist of series of simple geometric forms, for example rectangular or square cubes in different colours. Judd believed that art should not be representational: the work should exist as an independent object in its own right.
Judd applied the principle of different colours and geometric patterns to the parquet floor in the Palace. The parquet covers two storeys of the building as can be seen in the sketches made in January and March 1992. It was not designed for a single room. He had strips laid over the entire storey at the quarter, third and halfway mark, both lengthwise and crosswise. Each strip is a different width and colour. This arrangement is also clear in the sketches. He used five types of wood for this: ash, angelique, kambala, wengé and merbau.
In the rooms housing the Escher exhibition the geometric pattern seems to compartmentalise the space. At the same time it appears logical the parquet fits naturally into the old century rooms, merging into the space.
Donald Judd studied art history and philosophy, and taught both at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences in New York and at Yale. He was also an eminent art critic, writing for prestigious journals such as Art News, Arts Magazine and Art International. Major exhibitions of his work were held in the US and in Europe, and he took part in periodic exhibitions such as the Documenta, Venice Biennale and the renowned Munster sculpture project. In the Netherlands his work can be found in the Kunstmuseum Den Haag, and elsewhere. Judd also made paintings, sculptures and wood furniture.
After his death the Judd Foundation took over the management of Donald Judd’s living and working spaces in Marfa, Texas and at 101 Spring Street in New York. To be able to maintain both locations, the Foundation auctioned a number of his works in 2006. The revenue amounted to 20 million dollars, which was earmarked for the Foundation’s operations.