I'm looking for...



Happening:
Anytime
to
Near:
Anywhere
That is
Anything

Sculpture … or shelving?


by Jerome Weeks 14 Feb 2008

So you drive all the way out Marfa to see Donald Judd’s famous aluminum boxes, and you are appropriately impressed: There really is something solemn and spooky and mind-expanding about their isolation and … essentialness. But a variation of a famous suspicion/putdown (“my child could paint this abstract expressionist stuff”) sneaks into the back of your […]

CTA TBD

Donald Judd sculpture

So you drive all the way out Marfa to see Donald Judd’s famous aluminum boxes, and you are appropriately impressed: There really is something solemn and spooky and mind-expanding about their isolation and … essentialness.

But a variation of a famous suspicion/putdown (“my child could paint this abstract expressionist stuff”) sneaks into the back of your mind. Doesn’t minimalist sculpture sometimes look an awful lot like … an IKEA coffee table?

Take the Reverent Entertainment quiz: Can you tell an authentic Donald Judd masterpiece from a piece of cheap furniture?

SHARE
  • If he sells it successfully as “Art” then it is “Art” to someone. The great question is whether it will sell “well” in a hundred years time and be considered great “Art” then. The same question could have been put, and I am sure was put, to Picasso. There is an element of taste here too, some like it some hate it.

  • Actually, I disagree — in part. Yes, you’re right, it is art to someone who appreciates it AS art. But in a way, my setup for the quiz is a cheat. The quiz really is not asking you to distinguish between purported artworks, between a Picasso and a child’s painting or between admirably useful furniture and fancy-pants art. If you read the intro to the quiz, you’ll see that ALL of the pieces are furniture. That is, even the Judds are designed to be slept on or sat on or whatever.

    This makes the quiz itself a bit of a cheat on a different level — given Judd’s normally high standards of manufacture, I suspect that if most of us were to see these pieces up-close and in real-life, we’d recognize which tables and shelving units are Judd’s work.

    Which also means, in a hundred years, the Judds are more likely to still be around. Even in minimalist art, there’s something to be said for craftsmanship.

    • Bill M.

      And besides, the Judds came first, then IKEA. In fact, one might argue that the Judds made the IKEA possible in the way art always opens the eyes to new possibilities.

  • Ah, very good point. Hadn’t thought of it that way.

    I propose a new 20th century exhibition: “Modern Sculpture: A Retrospective Look at the Pioneers of Cheap, Commercial Knock-Offs.”