Donald Judd – A good chair is a good chair
»If a chair or a building is not functional … it is ridiculous.« (Donald Judd)
© Judd Foundation Archive
American Donald Judd (1928-1994) is considered one of the most important 20th- century artists the world over. He came to fame in the 1960s as one of the protagonists of Minimal Art but expanded his oeuvre to include the areas of architecture and design. Yet only a few people are aware that Donald Judd also applied himself intensively to furniture design.
For the first time in the context of an interdisciplinary institution, Die Neue Sammlung – The International Design Museum Munich – is showing a focused selection of the furniture Judd conceived, doing so within a setting of important museum collections on the history of modern art and design.
Judd addressed the design of furniture more intensely after moving to Marfa/Texas. He needed tables, chairs and a children’s bed for his small house. As Judd was unable to buy the furniture that met his requirements either in Marfa or the surrounding towns he decided to design and make his own. The first item he produced was the bed for his children – made of simple pine boards. It was only later that he worked with a carpenter who produced the furniture exactly according to his specifications. After a while in addition to the wooden furniture he opted for his first metal pieces of furniture, for which purpose he largely used sheet aluminum, which was produced in different colors. Judd was always intent on his furniture not being seen as »artist’s furniture« but as proper furniture that functioned well.
Donald Judd, Children’s bed (pine), 1977. Fabricated by Donald Judd.
Courtesy Flavin and Rainer Judd. Photo: Stuart Whipps, Donald Judd Furniture (Trademark) © Judd Foundation
Donald Judd, Children`s Desk (pine), 1978. Fabricated by Donald Judd.
Courtesy Rainer Judd. Photo: Stuart Whipps, Donald Judd Furniture (Trademark) © Judd Foundation
Aside from the items produced in small numbers of wood and metal the exhibition also shows prototypes and early pieces the artist constructed for himself, which have seldom been previously shown outside of the two places he lived, namely New York and Marfa/Texas.
The extensive collection of design objects owned by Die Neue Sammlung – The International Design Museum Munich – and its permanent exhibition at Pinakothek der Moderne make it possible for the first time to show Donald Judd’s furniture in the context of works by designers whom the artist particularly appreciated. These include not only the Americans Ray and Charles Eames, but also Dieter Rams – among other things, Judd lauded Rams’ appliances for Braun.
From as early as June onwards, the start of the »American Summer« shows, Die Neue Sammlung will shift the focus of its permanent exhibition to aspects of American design from the early 20th century to the present day under the motto AMERICAN DESIGN.
Donald Judd, Stool, 1992. Die Neue Sammlung – The International Design Museum Munich
Photo: Die Neue Sammlung – The International Design Museum Munich (A. Laurenzo) Donald Judd Furniture (Trademark) © Judd Foundation
The choice of Donald Judd’s furniture as the topic for the exhibition and the concerted endeavors of all four museums in Pinakothek der Moderne under the motto AMERICAN SUMMER is very much in keeping with the trans-disciplinary concept championed by Pinakothek der Moderne.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog of the same title. With a text by Alex Coles and the essay »It’s hard to find a good lamp« by Donald Judd. 126 pages with numerous illustrations. In English and German. Prize: ca. 30 Euro.
Courtesy Pinakothek der Moderne München
Images © Judd Foundation