Donald Judd

Untitled [Seven plywood boxes: open back], 1972–73

Certificate for Donald Judd’s Untitled [Seven plywood boxes: open back], 1972–73

Untitled [Seven plywood boxes: open back], 1972–73

Untitled [Seven plywood boxes: open back], 1972–73. Installation view: Das Bild einer Geschichte 1956/1976: Die Sammlung Panza di Biumo. Die Geschichte eines Bildes: Action Painting, Newdada, Pop Art, Minimal Art, Conceptual and Environmental Art, Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, September 19–November 2, 1980. Photo: © Walter Klein Düsseldorf and AFORK (Archiv künstlerischer Fotografie der rheinischen Kunstszene) at Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf

While Donald Judd executed early works himself (in collaboration with his father, Roy Judd), in 1964 he began delegating fabrication to professional artisans and manufacturers, each with their own area of expertise in given materials or techniques. For example, ten of the works in the Panza Collection were produced by Bernstein Brothers, Judd’s regular fabricator for works in bent and soldered sheet metal, some with highly polished finishes.

The status of 16 other works, which will be the Panza Collection Initiative's focus of attention, is especially complicated. Panza purchased the works from Judd (through Leo Castelli Gallery, New York) in the form of signed documents. These confirm transfer of ownership and outline the owner's right to pursue fabrication in compliance with plans provided by Judd (and further instruction from studio assistants and preferred fabricators). A number of the works—four in plywood and four in metal, including a site-specific galvanized iron wall for Panza’s villa in Varese—were subsequently fabricated at Panza’s behest and with, at best, limited supervision by Judd. Early on, Judd expressed concerns about the craftsmanship of these fabrications but also suggested—through his assistants—that with certain modifications, some works might be salvaged. Over time, however, the artist came to disown Panza's fabrications, publicly proclaiming all but the wall piece in Varese to be "forgeries." Seven other works purchased by Panza in an unrealized state were never fabricated during Judd's lifetime, and they remain in the Guggenheim Museum’s collection in the form of documents only.

Judd's death in 1994 left the status of contested and unrealized works unresolved. These circumstances present complex questions regarding the practical and philosophical nature of Judd's practice and, broadly speaking, of authorship, artist rights, ownership rights, and the responsibilities of museums and collectors.

See a selection of Judd's work in the Collection Online.


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