Throughout his four-decade career, Donald Judd embodied the definition of the word polymath, working as a writer, artist – and in the last two decades of his life he also designed furniture. During the 1980s and 90s, Judd devised more than 70 pieces of furniture in a number of wood and metal finishes that have been sold since the eighties, and from his death in 1994, as made-to-order pieces.
‘The art of a chair is not its resemblance to art, but is partly its reasonableness, usefulness, and scale as a chair,’ wrote Donald Judd in his 1986 essay, On Furniture. Judd’s furniture is still available, made by their original fabricators with his own specs and finishes. Instead of having to wait weeks, two of Judd’s iconic chairs, the ‘Corner Chair’ in clear anodised aluminium, and the ‘Library Stool’ in pine, will be available as ready-made pieces, online from 1 May, and in person from 4–7 May at Frieze New York.
Judd wrote that he made the mistake of attempting to make something as unusual as a piece of art when somebody had asked him to design a coffee table in the mid-70s. ‘Back of this was the assumption that a good chair was only a good chair, that a chair could only be improved or changed slightly, and that nothing could be done without a great, strange effort,’ wrote Judd. 'But the furniture slowly became new as I dealt easily with the reality. A good chair is a good chair.’
The chairs Judd designed carry minimal, straight lines. The ‘Corner Chair’, which is produced in Switzerland, forgoes the standard chair back, adding two sides so that it will fit perfectly in a corner. Three of the four sides it stands on are covered, and right below is a level that can be doubled as storage space. The ‘Library Stool’, which is made in California, is basically an open cube aside from the seat, with the four legs of the base connected.