donald judd artwork

You've probably seen the artwork. Clean, stainless steel boxes, stacked one atop the other, lined across the floor or cantilevered from the museum wall. The first time you saw them you asked what they meant. The second time you asked why? The third time you probably just smiled and accepted it.

That's a common reaction to the work of American artist Donald Judd (1928-1994).

donald judd sfmoma

Not everyone gets him. Not everyone loves him. Yet his contribution to international Minimalism is second to none.

Judd aspired to create work devoid of compositional hirearchy. More simply put, he created art in which no one single thing catches your eye. It's strikingly egalitarian, and while his artwork has clearly influenced modern art, the principles of his work can also be felt in buildings, desk lamps and furniture designs. Notice the simply stacked squares of this lamp:

modern steel desk lamps

Amarillo Silver Accent Table Lamp

It is this beautiful, understated quality of line that defines Judd's work, and it creeps up time and again, whether in his ink-on-paper prints or his site specific installations.   

Donald Judd artwork on paper

public art donald judd

What Judd's art lacks in color or pizzazz is made up for in elegant simplicity. It's this conceptual basis that informs much of today's most celebrated products, from the iPhone to modern furniture designs like these glass nesting tables.

glass nesting tables

Silhouette Set of 3 Glass and Chrome Nesting Accent Tables

And this is the true beauty of Minimalism - the ability for an object or image to convey more by saying less. What holds true for artwork also holds true for a piece of modern furniture or contemporary architecture.

Donald Judd didn't just master this concept as an artist. He helped define it through his life's work. 

Images: The Gorgeous Daily, June Joon JaxxPrinted Editions, Waymarking