To commemorate the art and life of Donald Judd, who died unexpectedly in February, his last formal statement appears in the following pages. Interspersed through his meditation are personal reminiscences by eight men and women who counted themselves among his friends and associates.
Material, space, and color are the main aspects of visual art. Everyone knows that there is material that can be picked up and sold, but no one sees space and color. Two of the main aspects of art are invisible; the basic nature of art is invisible. The integrity of visual art is not seen. The unseen nature and integrity of art, the development of its aspects, the irreducibility of thought, can be replaced by falsifications, and by verbiage about the material, itself in reality unseen. The discussion of science is scientific; the discussion of art is superstitious. There is no history.
There has been some discussion of space, usually of proportion, by past architects, and some by historians of architecture. There is some by recent architects: practical by Alexander, practical and actual by Kahn, a little by van Doesburg, by Mies van der Rohe, by Le Corbusier, and by Wright. There is some in Japanese and Korean literature, mixed with an astrology of place, called Pung-su in Korean and Feng-shui in Chinese, both meaning "wind and water," classed vaguely in English as "geomancy." But the subject of space in architecture, the nature of architecture, is not developed. Judging from the evidence of the buildings by recent well-known architects, space in architecture is no longer known. It's not unseen; it's not there. Within the clothes there is no Emperor.
There has been almost no discussion of space in art, nor in the present. The most important and developed aspect of present art is unknown. This concern, my main concern, has no history. There is no context; there are no terms; there are not any theories. There is only the visible work invisible. Space is made by an artist or architect; it is not found and packaged. It is made by thought. Therefore most buildings have no space. Most people are not aware of this absence. They are not bothered by a confusion and a nothingness that is enclosed. Of course they don't miss real space and don't desire it. Sometimes when they are traveling they enter a cathedral, recognize space, and thank God instead of the architect. Some people recognize and want what they never knew existed. A few people have said to me, and one written, that my work together made space of a room, made architecture, and even that it made a "spiritual" space. Space is so unknown that the only comparison is to the beliefs of the past.
After a few thousand years space is so unknown that a discussion of it would have to begin with a rock. How large is it? Is it on a level surface? Does it rest on the surface or does it perch? If it isn't on a level surface, the tilted surface approaches a second entity. Is the rock symmetrical? If not, does it face away or toward the tilted surface? Is the top of the rock pointed, rounded, flat but symmetrical with the sides, flat but broader than the sides, so that the rock is a thick plane parallel to the surface, level or tilted? That is, in general, in what way does the rock create space around itself? It is a definition of space, a center of space, in one way a core of space. I'm not interested in skinny figures, but they are Giacometti's early and unusual creation of space. A related creation made earlier and by many architects is the scheme of the old Russian churches. The base, the church itself, is a hollow block, which is a form so far in advance of this discussion that I will never get to it. The top of the church, a single onion dome if the church is small, or one large dome and four smaller ones if the church is large, is like the pointed rock, but of course is definite, a core of space in the sky, developing from the solidly enclosed space below, contracting above the roof, swelling into a light volume and contracting to a point. …