We were fortunate to be in New York in January where we visited the Judd Foundation in SoHo for the first time. The five-story cast-iron building was purchased by Donald Judd in 1968 as a home, studio, and permanent installation. The ground floor features a 1986 minimalist installation by Carl Andre titled Manifest Destiny which consists of eight stacked bricks, all bearing the legend “Empire.”
The third floor of the building houses Judd’s former studio which was perhaps our favorite space. The studio is comprised of three separate areas for activities that correspond to three distinct body positions: chairs for reading while sitting; a desk for drawing while standing; and a floor rug and wooden headrest for contemplation while recumbent.
Judd’s reductive arrangement of space within the studio and his prescription for a specific, different physical orientation while engaged in each task would no doubt serve to focus his attention and separate each creative endeavor in his consciousness. Daniel J. Boorstin, the author of The Image: a Guide to Pseudo Events in America, warns against the unconscious blurring of experience. Addressing technology and the “rise of images” in particular, he writes: “In twentieth-century America we have gone one step beyond the homogenizing of experience…. Even as we try to sharpen our artificial distinctions they become ever more blurry.”
Milton Glaser notes that “Drawing is thinking,” an observation I am fond of quoting. That said, the experience of being in Donald Judd’s studio leads me to an oppositional thought, which is: reading is not drawing is not thinking. While I still subscribe to Glaser’s dictum, I admire Judd’s implicit acknowledgment that while these three activities are related, they are not equivalent. The discipline (and clarity) demanded by Judd’s approach is revelatory. [MF]