Heavy metal: Donald Judd’s rare Cor-ten steel sculptures go on display in New York

Heavy metal: Donald Judd’s rare Cor-ten steel sculptures go on display in New York

The last time Donald Judd’s Cor-ten works were on display together, it was during the late 80s at Margo Leavin Gallery in Los Angeles. ’I was living in Los Angeles at the time, and I remember that show opening, and it was a big deal,’ recounts Judd’s son Flavin Judd. The younger Judd thought that it was about time the world saw the Cor-ten sculptures again, so he curated an exhibition organised in collaboration with the Judd Foundation at David Zwirner’s West 20th Street location in New York. On view through 19 December, the show brings together about a decade’s worth of Judd’s rarely seen sculptures.

Upon entering the gallery, visitors are welcomed by a large-scale 1979 sculpture of six Cor-ten rectangles lined up front to back. From there, the show moves forward into the 80s, when Judd set up a fabrication studio in Marfa. ’It didn’t really make a difference and he had direct control over the fabrication process and it was very quick and easy to get stuff going, so that does make them slightly different from the other works, but as you see, the way of doing things is not different,’ says Flavin.

Judd’s sculptures display a stoic sort of simplicity, each piece exuding the striking shades of Cor-ten. On the back wall are four squares of Cor-ten steel filled with a yellow lacquer background. On the side hangs one of Judd’s stacked works, comprised of six rectangles hanging atop one another. In the back room, four large pieces from 1989 display the two X two X one proportion, a frequent trope in his work.  

The reason why Judd’s Cor-ten steel works have been exhibited so little in the past three decades? According to Flavin, ’There aren’t very many of them, and they have a very distinct personality, so getting them to work with other pieces is sometimes difficult.’

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