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Clockwise from top left: Donald Judd, Untitled, 1960, oil on canvas, 65 x 49 1/2“. Donald Judd, Untitled, 1955, oil on canvas, 31 x 36 3/4”. Donald Judd, Untitled, 1961, oil on Masonite and wood with aluminum pan, 48 1/8 x 36 1/8 x 4“. Donald Judd, Untitled, ca. 1950, oil on canvas, 30 3/8 x 24”.

“Donald Judd: Early Work 1955–1968”

The Menil Collection

Donald Judd did not begin to produce mature, wholly distinctive works of art until shortly after his thirty-second birthday, in the summer of 1960. Or so the story is told in the artist’s 1975 catalogue raisonné. “Early Work 1955–1968,” curated by Thomas Kellein, director of the Kunsthalle Bielefeld (which co-organized the show with the Menil), gathers together paintings and drawings executed before the official oeuvre’s clock started ticking. Offering itself as a missing prequel to the Judd epic, the exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue whose cover (in Judd’s signature cadmium red) is an exact replica of the 1975 document, only half the size. It’s the raisonné’s Mini-Me.

Much of the interest here owes to the show’s seeming promise to disclose a young Judd as closet painter, cavorting with palette and easel. Many of the works have never been allowed public viewing before or at least

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