The exhibition Donald Judd: Paintings opened April 5 at the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami. The show offers a rare look at works that represent early steps toward the Judd’s ascendance to one of art’s most significant and influential 20th-century figures.
He also rejected the European tradition of illusory art, believing that a work of art is an object in space unto itself, rather than a representational depiction of another object in another space.
His sculptures — another term he refused to accept — are often created from plywood, concrete or metal, sometimes large enough to fill a sizable room. The simplicity of form can be misleading, as the works are weighted with narrative complexity and grounded in transformative art theory.
But, in 1959, the breakthrough that made these works possible was still on the horizon for the then 29-year-old artist.
The show is the first museum exhibition dedicated to 14 works executed from 1959 to 1961, when he was developing his ideas about color, space and exploring the limitations of the flat plane.
“The exhibition offers an expanded understanding of the artist through this understudied facet of his practice,” according to ICA Miami material promoting the show.
“These paintings, which have not been on view together previously, reveal Judd’s transition from figuration to abstract compositions of color and lines that demonstrate his prevailing interest in structure and space.
“In the year after making these paintings, these elements evolved into Judd’s three-dimensional works and grounded the next three decades of his practice.”
Also included is one of the artist’s floor sculptures, untitled (1964), which is an example of the artist’s continual experimentation with the intersections between space and color.
ICA Miami is located downtown near the Miami Design District. Donald Judd: Paintings runs through July 15.