Curated by Marianne Stockebrand, the former director of the Chinati Foundation, Donald Judd: The Multicolored Works presented the first exhibition devoted exclusively to the group of objects created by Judd between 1984 and 1992 that were characterized by the artist’s ever-evolving engagement with the subject of color. Although color had been a significant component in Judd’s work from the beginning of his career, he employed no more than two colors in a single object until the early 1980s. By contrast, the body of work he began in 1984 shows a multiplicity of hues, mostly four to eight colors per object, in combinations that are both striking and unexpected. This exhibition represents the first time that these multicolored works were given their due attention.
While Judd’s acclaim often rests on his complex articulation of space, color also played an important role in his oeuvre. Judd initially featured it as a byproduct of the material itself—often through subtle hues inherent in wood, copper, steel, and colored Plexiglas—and not as applied pigment bearing the trace of his hand. He fundamentally revised this approach to color in 1984 after discovering an industrial process that enabled him to enamel thin sheets of bent aluminum into a myriad of hues derived from a standardized, commercial color chart. The resulting body of work formed the core of this exhibition.
Drawn from public and private collections in Europe and the United States, this exhibition brought together more than twenty three-dimensional objects representing nearly every kind of multicolored work Judd made in terms of size and type. This included wall-mounted works that range from 60 to 360 centimeters in length, installed at either eye-level or high above ground, as well as one of only six large freestanding multicolored pieces. The exhibition also featured thirty drawings and collages, which offered visitors an opportunity to witness Judd’s creative process. Taken together, the works in the exhibition provided an unparalleled opportunity to study Judd’s open-ended system of complex and idiosyncratic color combinations, which were at once informed by and independent of existing color theories.