New York

Donald Judd

Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

Donald Judd’s work used to be seen as a polemic on esthetics—its relentless repetition and recombination of spare Minimalist motifs suggesting a debater’s tenacious insistence on a position. The principal criticism of it was the prophecy that its uncompromising rigor would inevitably become a compromised rigidity. The exhibition at the Whitney Museum, far more varied and lively than most visitors would have expected, suggests a different outcome. Though this was a retrospective exhibition, most of the works were from the ’60s, a fact that dated the artist with remarkable precision. But in a sense chronological considerations are insignificant in regard to Judd’s art; after the initial transition from painting to sculpture, little sequential development can be seen. The ’80s work is mostly quite like that of the ’60s.

The great formative moment of the work was its transition from painting

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