Donald Judd: Specific Furniture

SAN FRANCISCO— Among the most important American artists of the 20th century, Donald Judd transformed the art world with his influential work in art, design and architecture. On view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) July 14 through November 4, 2018, Donald Judd: Specific Furniture will look beyond Judd’s work in sculpture, which he called “specific objects,” to examine his furniture design as its own practice, independent from his artworks. This exhibition will also bring together Judd’s furniture with designs he owned and admired, as well as newly fabricated Judd pieces that visitors can use outside the gallery.

Donald Judd
Donald Judd at Eichholteren, 1990; courtesy Judd Foundation; © FBM Studio; image: Franziska & Bruno Mancia

“Judd’s rigorous research and exploration of form and scale in his artworks extended into his interests in design and architecture. Truly a spatial practice, Judd’s holistic approach to the objects that he created and surrounded himself with is evident in his refined, if not nuanced, works,” said Joseph Becker, associate curator of architecture and design at SFMOMA. “We are excited to offer visitors the unique opportunity to understand Judd’s furniture by presenting eight pieces that can be sat on before and after viewing the exhibition.”

Judd’s designs emerged out of a need for simple and functional furniture, developed in response to what he saw as an absence of good and available pieces. From tables to desks and chairs to beds, Judd created a diverse group of distilled yet functional furniture originating from basic utilitarian forms. Through hundreds of permutations, he established a system of designs that demonstrated his philosophy of use and utility. According to Judd, furniture was designed to suit unambiguous actions, such as sitting upright, standing or lying flat, and prompt movement from one piece to another depending on the task.

In addition to his roles as artist, designer and critic, Judd was also a collector of furniture that embodied a material presence or design strategy, acquiring designs by Alvar Aalto, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Gerrit Rietveld, Rudolph Schindler and Gustav Stickley, among others. Unique to this presentation, Donald Judd: Specific Furniture will bring together Judd’s work with a selection of the iconic pieces he collected and installed in relationship to his own designs, establishing his work firmly within the design canon.

Donald Judd: Specific Furniture will feature approximately 30 pieces of furniture and 25 drawings, along with eight newly fabricated Judd designs, including four chairs, two benches, a stool and a combined seat/table/shelf. Produced by Donald Judd Furniture through the Judd Foundation using the same furniture fabricators and materials that Judd used during this lifetime, these pieces will be located on SFMOMA’s sixth-floor landing adjacent to the Architecture and Design gallery for visitors to touch and sit on before and after the viewing the exhibition.

Support for Donald Judd: Specific Furniture is provided by Dudley and Michael Del Balso. SFMOMA is grateful for the efforts of the Judd Foundation in the realization of this exhibition.

Donald Judd
Donald Judd, Armchair, 1984; collection SFMOMA, gift of Byron R. Meyer; photo: Katherine Du Tiel
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