The boxes of Donald Judd have returned to Chelsea! There should be much rejoicing. For its final show of the Spring season and to inaugurate the gallery’s exclusive representation of Judd Foundation, David Zwirner has beautifully and respectfully installed twelve works of late Judd. Pulled from the larger 1989 exhibition at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany, the current show holds the distinction of being the first time that a group of boxes of this size has been displayed since the original event.
Situated in both of the gallery’s spaces, the twelve boxes have been divided into smaller groups that invite comparisons and emphasize contrasts between them. Identical in exterior dimensions (one meters by two meters by two meters) and material (painted anodized aluminum), the boxes differentiate themselves interiorly. Through systematic insertion of panels within the hollow boxes, Judd explored volumetric bisection. Adding to this arithmetic reduction, Judd allowed for the panels to occur in four types: anodized aluminum and black, blue, and amber Plexiglass. The result of this complication not only increased the possible number of configurations, but creates a resonance that exceeds the calculated expectation. Boxes with blue and amber partitions emanate a soft, cool glow which appears to escape the imaginary top of each box, while those with aluminum and black partitions seem resolutely muted.
The spaces hold the works with a sensitivity rarely seen in non-permanent installations. The floor has been painted a grey that almost perfectly matches the color of the boxes. The brilliantly white walls provide a commanding contrast that readily communicates the spatial aspect of each sub-group. Long, rectangular skylights allow a reflected light to fall into the space and onto the boxes, permitting an interplay between exterior and interior atmospherics. While grey is frequently regarded as the sullenest of colors, seen here on a sudden end to a riot of sun-filled days, it seemed gentle and buoyant, as if the presence of Judd’s boxes reconfigured the climatic gloom and chaos into a feeling of purely-radiant, rational thought.
Donald Judd, May 26 to June 25, David Zwirner Gallery
About the AuthorHank Leschrogge observes the New York art scene for ArtCulture.
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