Well Done and Permanent

Donald Judd MultiColored Works Installation 2013

“The installation of my work and of others is contemporary with its creation. The work is not disembodied spatially, socially, temporally, as in most museums. The space surrounding my work is crucial to it: as much thought has gone into the installation as into a piece itself. The installations in New York and Marfa are a standard for the installation of my work elsewhere. My work and that of others is often exhibited badly and always for short periods. Somewhere there has to be a place where the installation is well done and permanent. This obviously implies that museums are inadequate for their job. My installations and architecture are very much in defense of my work. Visual, spatial art cannot be reduced to performance.” [Donald Judd In Defense of My Work]

Judd’s idea of installation as a complete work of art is interesting, but the permanent complete installation is also defined as something which museums are inadequately equipped to collect and present. So where to turn? Private Investment. Enter the de Menil’s and their foundations. Judd’s complete installations involve architecture, real estate and massive amounts of upkeep all of which implies a significant investment of time and money. Judd’s work also requires the belief of his investors. I say this because his work is extremely specific and requires acquiescence and surrender on the part of the audience. These practicalities formed around Judd’s idea point to the fact that permanent complete installations are conceived, produced and presented mainly through capital – plans, proposals, budgets, builders, fabricators, etc. – and is an art form necessarily encompassing economics as a feature of its aesthetics. In the 60s and 70s this was a new and provocative idea.

Donald Judd Prints Installation 2015

“One of the many destructive assumptions now is that all ideas have no originators; they are mutations in the public domain. The use and meaning of the ideas are vague. But someone invents ideas. Someone wants something new. In its invention an idea is clear and in its diffusion it is vague. This is easy to see. It’s easy to see that Chamberlain invented Stella’s reliefs. A new idea is quickly debased, often before the originator has time and money to continue it. In general I think this has happened to all of my work, but especially to the use of the whole room, which is now called an installation, which basically I began… but many artists degrade the idea [of installation], for example Barbara Kruger, who is my favorite, because she also degrades red and black. Again there is no discussion and criticism of works which occupy rooms, which is a reason why it is possible to have bland and trite work, with one or two meager and obvious ideas spread over a whole room, usually in writing, without space, which is after all the origin of the form.” [Donald Judd Some Aspects of Color]

One thought on “Well Done and Permanent

  1. there have been so many ideas presented here over the last few weeks that one hardly knows where to begin . . .

    but suffice to say no one else is making these leaps and presenting these ideas as you are

    bravo sir

    . . .

    when judd discusses his work it’s always in relation to ‘the whole’

    and initially as that recognized in pollock and then in the early work of stella

    where the limit of the framing edge mitigated against the efficacy of their medium

    as noted in this post judd’s conception of ‘the whole’ viz his own work exceeds simple material and mere place (although these factors are obviously crucial) to encompass the systems of its fabrication, reception, and valuation

    this idea as it were was degraded when the display of work embraced the term ‘installation’ as a catch-all generalization following the development of single-channel video as a quasi-sculptural medium

    installation as a strategy was then extended across all media and deployed to present the pictures of capital triumphant emblematic of this neoliberal era

    this is the contemporary point at which kitsch was able to assimilate the lessons of abstraction and as a space of imagination, action, and interpretation

    thus degrading its cognitive force, insistent specificity, and inherent potential

    of this there should likely be no doubt

    and is possibly where critics as dissimilar as judd and greenberg may have found themselves in agreement

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