November 16, 2017
by cschaulsohn
Concrete Buildings rendering. Credit: Nicole Paul Popovich, University of Florida.
Concrete Buildings rendering. Credit: Nicole Paul Popovich, University of Florida.

On 11.14.17, Obdurate Space: Architecture of Donald Judd opened at the Center for Architecture. Curated by Claude Armstrong, Architect, and Donna Cohen, Associate Professor at the University of Florida, co-founders of Armstrong + Cohen Architecture, who served as architectural assistants to Judd in the 1980s, the exhibition presents built and unrealized architecture projects by one of the most important artists of the 20th Century.

For Donald Judd, the actual space his art works occupied was of primary concern, as evidenced at 101 Spring Street here in New York and at the buildings and structures in Marfa, Texas. In artist’s critical essays on the state of architecture,  Judd contributed to the discourse on the crisis of modern architecture in America, offering strong critiques over what he viewed as the miserable aesthetics and crass developments of much of the country’s built environment.

From 1984 through 1994, the last ten years of his life, Judd produced a significant body of architectural work, integrating aspects of his art practice and elements of European design movements. Judd was intensely productive, simultaneously making art, furniture, and architecture. By 1990, he had as many as 19 architectural projects at some stage of design, some self-initiated and some by invitation and in response to design competitions.

Obdurate Space details five of these projects: the Concrete Buildings in Marfa, Texas; the urban proposal for downtown Cleveland, Ohio; the Eichholteren Haus in Küssnacht-am-Rigi, Switzerland; the Kunsthaus Bregenz Office and Archive Building in Austria; and Bahnhof Ost in Basel, Switzerland. They represent the artist’s most mature architectural works and show Judd’s outstanding formal consistency in response to a variety of scales and levels of complexity.

Judd maintained that there were fundamental realities, space, material, and color, that were shared by art and architecture. His buildings reflect a full awareness of architectural history and the importance of context. Central to Judd’s idea of architecture was the construction of space full and obdurate; architecture not borrowed from nature but of purposeful thought; not for causes that architecture cannot affect but for the peaceful contemplation of living in that space and the environment beyond.

Obdurate Space, on view through March 5, 2018, includes models of each of the selected buildings built specifically for this exhibition, along with photographs, drawings, and interpretive digital renderings of the works.