Donald Judd: SPRUTH MAGERS LONDON

Article excerpt

Although works on paper were included in Donald Judd's midcareer surveys at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1968 and the Pasadena Art Museum in 1971, the artist's drawings for various Wall Units, Floor Boxes, Stacks, and Progressions have remained largely under the radar for the four decades since then. With pencil or ink, Judd executed spare, lean schematics on paper of various sizes as preparation for his three-dimensional works. In terms of skill, these sheets occupy a middle ground that's neither virtuosic nor amateurish. Their most idiosyncratic quality is that many were made on yellow architect's paper.

Because this portion of Judd's substantial corpus has, for the most part, heen out of sight, out of mind, the mistaken impression has been that the Minimalist pioneer merely phoned his fabricators to order his metal structures and objects. "Working Papers: Donald Judd Drawings, 1963-93," curated by Peter Ballantinc, revealed that this was not the case at all. Moreover, the exhibition conveyed a picture oian artist who was not always as decisive and bold as he appeared to be. Among the thirty-three sketches and diagrams on view--all are illustrated in an exhibition catalogue--there's one that's peppered with question marks. A few depict pieces that were never realized or else were fabricated in a modified form.

Some aspects of Judd's objects seem to have been more "specific" to him than others. Early on, he was particularly preoccupied with fine-tuning proportions and getting mathematical sequences just right. As late as 1986, he was arranging sequences oi numbers in rows to figure out how to proceed. Then there are sheets that record the nature of works that had already been realized. …