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Donald Judd: Past Theory

SEEING DONALD JUDD’S 15 RECENT plywood sculptures reminded me of another critic’s having once called Judd’s work “anthropomorphic” because it was hollow. That remark assumed that “anthropomorphic” can have only a pejorative use in talk about sculpture. The best sense I can now give the remark is this: that a sculpture’s clear division of outside from inside somehow confirms a misleading image we have of how our knowledge and ignorance of each other relate. The message in the “anthropomorphic” criticism was, I think, at least partly that we should eschew hollowness in esthetic terms if we are ethically serious about eschewing the idea of human beings as hollow. I mention this point of view because I think Judd’s plywood pieces themselves discredit it in a striking way. For collectively, rather than singly, there is something affirmatively anthropomorphic about these pieces. Taken together,

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