After serving in the United States Army during the Korean War, Donald Judd (1928–1994) attended the College of William and Mary, the Art Students League, and Columbia University, where he graduated, cum laude, with a B.S. in philosophy in 1953 and would pursue graduate studies in art history (1957–62). Beginning in the 60s, Judd exhibited regularly in the United States, Europe, and Japan. He was also a critic for Artnews, Arts Magazine and Art International (1959–65), producing many important theoretical writings on art and exhibition practices, which remain central to his legacy. Judd taught at several academic institutions throughout the 1960s and 70s, including the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, Dartmouth College, Yale University and Oberlin College.
Judd and his family moved to Marfa, Texas, in 1972, where the artist would found the Chinati Foundation, which opened to the public in 1986. The Chinati Foundation is an independent, non-profit, publicly funded institution which preserves and presents permanent installations by Judd and a limited number of artists, including John Chamberlain, Dan Flavin, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The remote site, located over 200 miles in either direction between El Paso and Midland, attracts over 10,000 visitors annually. Today, Judd’s legacy also survives through the Judd Foundation, established in 1996 and committed to maintaining and preserving the artist’s permanently-installed living and working spaces, libraries, and archives in Marfa and New York. The artist’s former studio and residence at 101 Spring Street (built in 1870), was given the distinction by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as the only intact single-use cast iron building remaining in SoHo.
During his lifetime, Judd received grants and awards from the John Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, the Sikkens Foundation, and the Swedish Institute, among others. The artist’s work has been included in 236 solo museum and gallery exhibitions worldwide, including, most recently, Donald Judd at the Tate Modern, London, 2004, which traveled to major museums in Dusseldorf and Basel through 2005. Other important exhibitions include Donald Judd. Early Work 1955–1968 at Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany, 2002 (traveled to The Menil Collection, Houston in 2003); Donald Judd Colorist, Sprengel Museum, Hanover, Germany, 2000 (traveled to Bregenz, Austria and Nice, France through 2001); Donald Judd: Prints 1951–1993, Retrospektive der Druckgraphik, Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, 1993–1994 (traveled to Valencia, Zurich, Vienna, and Wiesbaden, Germany through 1996); Donald Judd: werken uit Nederlandse openbare collecties en een Belgische privé–verzameling t.g.v. de Sikkensprijs 1993 [Donald Judd: works from Dutch public collections and a Belgian private collection to commemorate the Sikkens Prize 1993], Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1993–1994; Kunst + Design: Donald Judd, Museum Wiesbaden, 1993–1994 (traveled to Chemnitz and Karlsruhe in Germany, Oxford, England and Odense, Denmark through 1995); and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1988 (traveled to Dallas Museum of Art in 1989).