Donald Judd on Andy Warhol

by Art Fag City on February 12, 2009 · 34 comments Events

Andy Warhol, Art Fag City, Campbell's Soup Cans
Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962

“Burgoyne Diller: This is a mediocre show.” reads a typical lead in a Donald Judd review.   From a craft stand point, most editors would take issue with this — readers aren’t told what kind of work he’s made, and Judd uses the passive voice — but I’ve been finding it enjoyable none the less going through a few valuable opinions without the flourishes of writing conventions.

I bring this up, because I purchased Donald Judd: The Complete Writings 1959-1975, recently, and within the first few pages came to the conclusion that the artist understands the rules of formalism better than virtually any critic working today.  So far however, the most interesting passage comes from a piece in which he misses the point entirely.

Andy Warhol: It seems that the salient metaphysical question lately is “Why does Andy Warhol paint Campbell Soup cans?”  The only available answer is “Why not?”  The subject matter is a cause for both blame and excessive praise.  Actually it is not very interesting to think about the reasons, since it is easy to imagine Warhol’s paintings without such subject matter, simply as “over-all” paintings of repeated elements. The novelty and absurdity of the repeated images of Marilyn Monroe, Troy Donahue and Cola-Cola bottles is not great.  Although Warhol thought of using these subjects he certainly did not think of the format.

Certainly, these remarks stand in contrast to how we think about Warhol’s soup cans today, (which is described by wikipedia as commercialization and indiscriminate “sameness” of the modern era). I like the review though, because it seems such perfect record of the time.  Of course, applying the metric of a Jackson Pollock/abstract expressionist “over-all” painting to that of Andy Warhol isn’t going to work, but it was so engrained in the way people thought about art that even those steeped in the art scene couldn’t step out of that way of thinking.  I’ll note that later on in the review, Judd wrote he thought it was a bad idea to apply movement names such as “Pop”, “O.K.”, “Neo-Dada” to the work since the various artists falling under that category were too diverse.  Technically speaking, he’s right, even if the Pop Art label ultimately stuck.

  • ak

    i don’t know if you’ll graduate to the later writings (which are much harder to come by) but i really like them. longer more substantial essays, almost cultural criticism. people who’s opinion i value are more smitten with the short reviews in the yellow book but i like the other one’s more.

    this is good i thought. mel bochner

  • ak

    i don’t know if you’ll graduate to the later writings (which are much harder to come by) but i really like them. longer more substantial essays, almost cultural criticism. people who’s opinion i value are more smitten with the short reviews in the yellow book but i like the other one’s more.

    this is good i thought. mel bochner

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Thanks for this post. Good point about Warhol being read differently at different times.

    Looking at the Mel Bochner article that ak links to, it’s possible Judd just preferred Lichtenstein to Warhol.

    As you note, Judd answers the question “Why does Andy Warhol paint Campbell Soup cans?” with a non-answer followed by rather tepid observations about how the paintings are organized.

    But according to Bochner,

    >> The wider sociological context of art entered in [Judd's] prescient 1964 review of Roy Lichtenstein. Anticipating the Conceptualist critique of the late ’60s, he embarked on a riff about the sterile undercurrents of American popular culture:

    >>[Judd quote:] “Lots of people hang up pictures of sunsets, the sea, noble buildings and other supposedly admirable subjects…. They are pleasant, bland, and empty. A lot of visible things are like this: most modern commercial buildings … plastic with leather texture, the formica like wood, the cute and modern patterns inside jets and drugstores…. The stuff just exists, not objectionably to many people, slightly agreeably to many. Basically, again, no one has thought about it. It’s in limbo. Much political opinion is like this, much religion, much art … most opinion in fact, musicals, ice shows, graduation ceremonies.”

    Why did Judd write all this about Lichtenstein but dismiss Warhol’s bland, empty subject matter with a shrug? It suggests an unspoken personal or ideological agenda.

    I haven’t read the entire Lichtenstein review to see if Judd connected the above prose riff to Lichtenstein’s paintings in any significant way. But it’s likely he didn’t say, “Why paint comic book panels? Why not?”

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Thanks for this post. Good point about Warhol being read differently at different times.

    Looking at the Mel Bochner article that ak links to, it’s possible Judd just preferred Lichtenstein to Warhol.

    As you note, Judd answers the question “Why does Andy Warhol paint Campbell Soup cans?” with a non-answer followed by rather tepid observations about how the paintings are organized.

    But according to Bochner,

    >> The wider sociological context of art entered in [Judd's] prescient 1964 review of Roy Lichtenstein. Anticipating the Conceptualist critique of the late ’60s, he embarked on a riff about the sterile undercurrents of American popular culture:

    >>[Judd quote:] “Lots of people hang up pictures of sunsets, the sea, noble buildings and other supposedly admirable subjects…. They are pleasant, bland, and empty. A lot of visible things are like this: most modern commercial buildings … plastic with leather texture, the formica like wood, the cute and modern patterns inside jets and drugstores…. The stuff just exists, not objectionably to many people, slightly agreeably to many. Basically, again, no one has thought about it. It’s in limbo. Much political opinion is like this, much religion, much art … most opinion in fact, musicals, ice shows, graduation ceremonies.”

    Why did Judd write all this about Lichtenstein but dismiss Warhol’s bland, empty subject matter with a shrug? It suggests an unspoken personal or ideological agenda.

    I haven’t read the entire Lichtenstein review to see if Judd connected the above prose riff to Lichtenstein’s paintings in any significant way. But it’s likely he didn’t say, “Why paint comic book panels? Why not?”

  • Art Fag City

    From another Judd review of Lichtenstein:

    “The funny papers have again caused outrage among the respectable; this time it is not morals but art that is being corrupted. The premises of the status quo, which is multiple, being moribund at stages dating from recently back to the nineteenth century, have been ignored. Respectability comes quickly, is strong and can be shrewd. Lichtenstein’s comics and advertisements destroy the necessity to which the usual definitions pretend. In part this social benefaction is aside from the gist of the work. Other than that aggravation there are few reasons for using comics. There may be reasons as to the social meaning of comics and the aesthetic meaning of enlarging them, but these would be minor. It is not so unusual to appreciate the directness of comics; they look like Leger, as do these versions of them. The commercial technique -non-art- is part of the jolt, but the schematic modeling, the black lines and the half-tones of Ben Day dots resemble Leger’s localized modeling and black lines around flat colors. Lichtenstein is hardly as good as Leger, but is fairly good and has something on his own.”

    He goes on to talk about the composition and various formal qualities about the work. I’m inclined to think that the formal relationship between the work of Lichtenstein and Leger, simply makes the work more palettable for Judd, though you may be right.

  • Art Fag City

    From another Judd review of Lichtenstein:

    “The funny papers have again caused outrage among the respectable; this time it is not morals but art that is being corrupted. The premises of the status quo, which is multiple, being moribund at stages dating from recently back to the nineteenth century, have been ignored. Respectability comes quickly, is strong and can be shrewd. Lichtenstein’s comics and advertisements destroy the necessity to which the usual definitions pretend. In part this social benefaction is aside from the gist of the work. Other than that aggravation there are few reasons for using comics. There may be reasons as to the social meaning of comics and the aesthetic meaning of enlarging them, but these would be minor. It is not so unusual to appreciate the directness of comics; they look like Leger, as do these versions of them. The commercial technique -non-art- is part of the jolt, but the schematic modeling, the black lines and the half-tones of Ben Day dots resemble Leger’s localized modeling and black lines around flat colors. Lichtenstein is hardly as good as Leger, but is fairly good and has something on his own.”

    He goes on to talk about the composition and various formal qualities about the work. I’m inclined to think that the formal relationship between the work of Lichtenstein and Leger, simply makes the work more palettable for Judd, though you may be right.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    No, reading the Lichtenstein excerpt you just posted I think Bochner’s wrong.
    Judd is consistent in saying “There may be reasons as to the social meaning of [fill in the blank--advertisements or comics] and the aesthetic meaning of enlarging them, but these would be minor.”

    Judd’s contemporary Robert Smithson cared about what Bochner calls “the wider sociological context of art” but Judd didn’t have much use for it. I do think he was ungenerous to put all the social palaver in his writing about Lichtenstein and dismiss Warhol with a “Why not?” but that’s more a difference in tone, not meaning.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    No, reading the Lichtenstein excerpt you just posted I think Bochner’s wrong.
    Judd is consistent in saying “There may be reasons as to the social meaning of [fill in the blank--advertisements or comics] and the aesthetic meaning of enlarging them, but these would be minor.”

    Judd’s contemporary Robert Smithson cared about what Bochner calls “the wider sociological context of art” but Judd didn’t have much use for it. I do think he was ungenerous to put all the social palaver in his writing about Lichtenstein and dismiss Warhol with a “Why not?” but that’s more a difference in tone, not meaning.

  • ak

    Judd’s review of Lichtenstein that Bochner quotes is in response to a show of Lichtenstien’s paintings of Greek temples. I don’t know why Bochner (or the editors of Artforum) chose to trim it down, but Bochner cited the following in its entirety when he presented an expanded version of this essay at the Judd Writing Symposium last May in Marfa (hosted by the Chinati Foundation). I think reading the whole of this passage makes it much clearer what Judd was trying to say, which is hardly evident in the edited version, which eliminates the punchline.

    “Lots of people hang up pictures of sunsets, the sea, noble buildings and other supposedly admirable subjects. These things are thought laudable, agreeable, without much thought. No one pays much attention to them; probably no one is enthusiastic about one; there isn’t anything there to dislike. They are pleasant, bland and empty. A lot of visible things are like this: most modern commercial buildings, new Colonial stores, lobbies, most houses, most furniture, most clothing, sheet aluminum and plastic with leather texture, the formica like wood, the cute and modern patterns inside jets and drugstores. Who has decided that aluminum should be textured like leather? Not Alcoa, who make it; to them there is just a demand. It’s not likely any of the buyers think much about it. The stuff just exists, not objectionably to many people, slightly agreeably to many. Basically, again, no one has thought about it. It’s in limbo. Much political opinion is like this, much religion, much art… most opinion in fact, musicals, ice shows, graduation ceremonies. No one knows anything about Greek temples and everyone agrees they’re great. Lichtenstein is working with this passive appreciation and opinion. It’s part of these paintings and is an interesting and complex aspect there. It isn’t adventitious, as social comment is supposed to be; it is social comment and it’s visible.”

    This applies to Warhol too to a large extent. I’ll see if I can’t find something else where Judd hasn’t altered his opinion over time, but I don’t think he wrote about Warhol much. Not that I remember.

  • ak

    Judd’s review of Lichtenstein that Bochner quotes is in response to a show of Lichtenstien’s paintings of Greek temples. I don’t know why Bochner (or the editors of Artforum) chose to trim it down, but Bochner cited the following in its entirety when he presented an expanded version of this essay at the Judd Writing Symposium last May in Marfa (hosted by the Chinati Foundation). I think reading the whole of this passage makes it much clearer what Judd was trying to say, which is hardly evident in the edited version, which eliminates the punchline.

    “Lots of people hang up pictures of sunsets, the sea, noble buildings and other supposedly admirable subjects. These things are thought laudable, agreeable, without much thought. No one pays much attention to them; probably no one is enthusiastic about one; there isn’t anything there to dislike. They are pleasant, bland and empty. A lot of visible things are like this: most modern commercial buildings, new Colonial stores, lobbies, most houses, most furniture, most clothing, sheet aluminum and plastic with leather texture, the formica like wood, the cute and modern patterns inside jets and drugstores. Who has decided that aluminum should be textured like leather? Not Alcoa, who make it; to them there is just a demand. It’s not likely any of the buyers think much about it. The stuff just exists, not objectionably to many people, slightly agreeably to many. Basically, again, no one has thought about it. It’s in limbo. Much political opinion is like this, much religion, much art… most opinion in fact, musicals, ice shows, graduation ceremonies. No one knows anything about Greek temples and everyone agrees they’re great. Lichtenstein is working with this passive appreciation and opinion. It’s part of these paintings and is an interesting and complex aspect there. It isn’t adventitious, as social comment is supposed to be; it is social comment and it’s visible.”

    This applies to Warhol too to a large extent. I’ll see if I can’t find something else where Judd hasn’t altered his opinion over time, but I don’t think he wrote about Warhol much. Not that I remember.

  • ak

    It applies to Warhol as an ‘image maker’ but not in terms of his process, which is different than Lichtenstien, obviously, and is a big part of his importance.

  • ak

    It applies to Warhol as an ‘image maker’ but not in terms of his process, which is different than Lichtenstien, obviously, and is a big part of his importance.

  • mike

    Good post, and good comments.

    I’ll guess Judd isn’t dismissive of Warhol’s subject matter per se as much as he dislikes the illusionism, dumb as it might be, present in the rendering of things like soup cans and soda bottles. I think his discomfort with something so arbitrary, or in this case, non-specific, is what provokes the ‘why not?’ jibe. Why not a soup can? Why not a soda bottle? Or, why not any of the other ‘slightly agreeable’ stuff of common experience, which is basically material made to look like something that it is not? For Judd, it’s not the ‘content’ that’s crucial. It’s the form, which becomes the carrier of meaning. The structural relationship they establish is a thing in and of itself. Judd’s stacks, progressions, and boxes plainly show this in their obdurate facticity, and in their articulation of actual space. This is the social commentary that’s implicit in the work, and it’s very active. The genre of institutional critique, instantiated partially by Bochner and others, proceeds from Judd’s nascent example.

    As an side note, a primary issue with the soup cans in particular seems to be Warhol doesn’t follow the logic established by Jasper Johns, in which flat objects are painted on a flat plane, and things with volume are either cast or appropriated. Judd’s suspicion of Johns aside, this is the path ‘minimalism’ and its truth to materials basically follows. As such, this leads me to believe Judd’s correct in ascribing an all-over reading to the group of soup cans, and in stating that their apparent novelty is not that great. The kind of all-over organization Judd has in mind while assessing Warhol’s group of soup cans doesn’t seem to be that of Pollock’s pourings. Instead, his statement is informed by the diagrammatic space Frank Stella established with his black paintings, and shortly afterwards made explicit with the aluminum series in particular, which are characterized by their slab-like appearance, repellent surfaces, and notched corners, and in which illusionistic space is forced from the picture plane with extreme velocity. Both Stella and Judd were struck by the presence of these works, with their deep stretchers and oversized formats. I suspect these are some of the reasons Judd finds Lichtenstein’s work ‘fairly good’– to begin with, comics are flat. Painting the ben-day matrix is not that different than painting, say, a sequence of numbers. One can’t paint a picture of a number; one can only paint a number. Lichtenstein paints a stripe, or a dot. Enlarging the dimensions of these motifs engages the dynamics of scale, not only internally, in a-compositional terms, but externally, as they become actual integers in space. Judd was somewhat like Lichtenstein in this regard, as both were preocupied with problems of composition and scale for most of their lives. I’m not sure if I’d strictly say the same for Warhol.

  • mike

    Good post, and good comments.

    I’ll guess Judd isn’t dismissive of Warhol’s subject matter per se as much as he dislikes the illusionism, dumb as it might be, present in the rendering of things like soup cans and soda bottles. I think his discomfort with something so arbitrary, or in this case, non-specific, is what provokes the ‘why not?’ jibe. Why not a soup can? Why not a soda bottle? Or, why not any of the other ‘slightly agreeable’ stuff of common experience, which is basically material made to look like something that it is not? For Judd, it’s not the ‘content’ that’s crucial. It’s the form, which becomes the carrier of meaning. The structural relationship they establish is a thing in and of itself. Judd’s stacks, progressions, and boxes plainly show this in their obdurate facticity, and in their articulation of actual space. This is the social commentary that’s implicit in the work, and it’s very active. The genre of institutional critique, instantiated partially by Bochner and others, proceeds from Judd’s nascent example.

    As an side note, a primary issue with the soup cans in particular seems to be Warhol doesn’t follow the logic established by Jasper Johns, in which flat objects are painted on a flat plane, and things with volume are either cast or appropriated. Judd’s suspicion of Johns aside, this is the path ‘minimalism’ and its truth to materials basically follows. As such, this leads me to believe Judd’s correct in ascribing an all-over reading to the group of soup cans, and in stating that their apparent novelty is not that great. The kind of all-over organization Judd has in mind while assessing Warhol’s group of soup cans doesn’t seem to be that of Pollock’s pourings. Instead, his statement is informed by the diagrammatic space Frank Stella established with his black paintings, and shortly afterwards made explicit with the aluminum series in particular, which are characterized by their slab-like appearance, repellent surfaces, and notched corners, and in which illusionistic space is forced from the picture plane with extreme velocity. Both Stella and Judd were struck by the presence of these works, with their deep stretchers and oversized formats. I suspect these are some of the reasons Judd finds Lichtenstein’s work ‘fairly good’– to begin with, comics are flat. Painting the ben-day matrix is not that different than painting, say, a sequence of numbers. One can’t paint a picture of a number; one can only paint a number. Lichtenstein paints a stripe, or a dot. Enlarging the dimensions of these motifs engages the dynamics of scale, not only internally, in a-compositional terms, but externally, as they become actual integers in space. Judd was somewhat like Lichtenstein in this regard, as both were preocupied with problems of composition and scale for most of their lives. I’m not sure if I’d strictly say the same for Warhol.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    It reads like Judd is stretching to find meaning for Pop style paintings of Greek temples. I’d say his ascribing social comment to them is adventitious as all heck. Again, why not say that Warhol is “working with this passive appreciation and opinion” in the Marilyns, etc?

    Maybe I’m reading my own boredom with Lichtenstein’s post-comic strip art history references into Judd’s review, but, again, it seems like he likes Roy but his heart is not in the work so he’s going on about social commentary that he generally doesn’t champion.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    It reads like Judd is stretching to find meaning for Pop style paintings of Greek temples. I’d say his ascribing social comment to them is adventitious as all heck. Again, why not say that Warhol is “working with this passive appreciation and opinion” in the Marilyns, etc?

    Maybe I’m reading my own boredom with Lichtenstein’s post-comic strip art history references into Judd’s review, but, again, it seems like he likes Roy but his heart is not in the work so he’s going on about social commentary that he generally doesn’t champion.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    My comment was addressed to this one of ak’s:

    http://www.artfagcity.com/2009/02/12/donald-judd-on-andy-warhol/#comment-132604

    mike, Lichtenstein is just as “illusionistic” as Warhol. I apologize for guessing at Judd’s motives and suggest we all stop doing that in the absence of hard facts.

    And this is just wrong:

    >>”Judd’s stacks, progressions, and boxes plainly show this in their obdurate facticity, and in their articulation of actual space. This is the social commentary that’s implicit in the work, and it’s very active. The genre of institutional critique, instantiated partially by Bochner and others, proceeds from Judd’s nascent example.”

    Judd said repeatedly that “his work had [nothing] to do with society, the institutions and grand theories.” See, e.g., Anna Chave, “Minimalism and the Rhetoric of Power,” Arts, January 1990, p. 54.

    To say he is a forerunner of institutional critique is like saying Pace Wildenstein Gallery is a pioneer of feminism in the arts.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    My comment was addressed to this one of ak’s:

    http://www.artfagcity.com/2009/02/12/donald-judd-on-andy-warhol/#comment-132604

    mike, Lichtenstein is just as “illusionistic” as Warhol. I apologize for guessing at Judd’s motives and suggest we all stop doing that in the absence of hard facts.

    And this is just wrong:

    >>”Judd’s stacks, progressions, and boxes plainly show this in their obdurate facticity, and in their articulation of actual space. This is the social commentary that’s implicit in the work, and it’s very active. The genre of institutional critique, instantiated partially by Bochner and others, proceeds from Judd’s nascent example.”

    Judd said repeatedly that “his work had [nothing] to do with society, the institutions and grand theories.” See, e.g., Anna Chave, “Minimalism and the Rhetoric of Power,” Arts, January 1990, p. 54.

    To say he is a forerunner of institutional critique is like saying Pace Wildenstein Gallery is a pioneer of feminism in the arts.

  • mike

    AK, re: the residual illusionism in both Warhol and Lichtenstein . . . Andy’s early work was engaged at the level of rendering a thing, a can seen as a cylinder in a degraded perspectival space, while Roy was already rendering a rendering that was from the outset a two-dimensional image. There’s a slight difference there, and it shows up in the work at the level of scale. Is this splitting hairs? Maybe, but that’s what formalists tend to do.

    Tom, my take on the critical aspect of Judd’s work is ‘wrong’ if one takes his words at face value. I didn’t mean to suggest his work was emblematic of institutional critique, but sought to imply that others interpretation of it could and did lead in those directions. Placing work directly on the floor, as Judd did, and claimed to have invented as a formal move, challenges traditional conventions about how the production and apprehension of sculpture operated up to that point. Contrary to what Judd says, that instantiates at the very least a dissatisfaction with the norm, a radical innovation, or perhaps even a critique, and conceivably, for the thinking subject, sets an entire chain of associations in motion. I sense that Judd’s desire for controlling interpretation, in his statements about his own work and the work of others, is as rhetorically motivated as his sculptural output is materialist in its effect. The two together, the criticism and the work, are inextricably linked. Rhetoric is an exercise in power, and typically exaggerates in its aims to persuade. I can cede acknowledgment when Judd declares, for instance, that Smithson isn’t his spokesman, but more often than not, I take what he says with a grain of salt. I try to look at the work with an eye that isn’t habituated by another set of ostensibly objective conventions, as convincing as they sometimes are, that Judd himself helped establish.

  • mike

    AK, re: the residual illusionism in both Warhol and Lichtenstein . . . Andy’s early work was engaged at the level of rendering a thing, a can seen as a cylinder in a degraded perspectival space, while Roy was already rendering a rendering that was from the outset a two-dimensional image. There’s a slight difference there, and it shows up in the work at the level of scale. Is this splitting hairs? Maybe, but that’s what formalists tend to do.

    Tom, my take on the critical aspect of Judd’s work is ‘wrong’ if one takes his words at face value. I didn’t mean to suggest his work was emblematic of institutional critique, but sought to imply that others interpretation of it could and did lead in those directions. Placing work directly on the floor, as Judd did, and claimed to have invented as a formal move, challenges traditional conventions about how the production and apprehension of sculpture operated up to that point. Contrary to what Judd says, that instantiates at the very least a dissatisfaction with the norm, a radical innovation, or perhaps even a critique, and conceivably, for the thinking subject, sets an entire chain of associations in motion. I sense that Judd’s desire for controlling interpretation, in his statements about his own work and the work of others, is as rhetorically motivated as his sculptural output is materialist in its effect. The two together, the criticism and the work, are inextricably linked. Rhetoric is an exercise in power, and typically exaggerates in its aims to persuade. I can cede acknowledgment when Judd declares, for instance, that Smithson isn’t his spokesman, but more often than not, I take what he says with a grain of salt. I try to look at the work with an eye that isn’t habituated by another set of ostensibly objective conventions, as convincing as they sometimes are, that Judd himself helped establish.

  • ak

    I won’t try to guess who or what was saying what before Judd, but he certainly was concerned with “institutional critique” in his writings, especially his later ones, but I think that importing this into his work is a dubious move at best.

    The following are some relevant quotes. The second is the only substantial comment on Warhol that I could find. Judd was obviously conservative in a lot of ways, with certain limits to what he was willing to accept as good work. Rauschenberg and Duchamp made good work. But the Picasso swipe is funny and at least a little bit true, in my opinion.

    “Until lately we had a guy who found a snow shovel and who talked for decades, producing talking artists. And recently Picasso, who produced junk for forty years, and not much before, is hailed. For my part, I’ve lived in the shade of a coat-hanger and a bed spread. These household goods can’t be an advance on Newman and Pollock.”

    -On Russian art and its relation to my work (1981)

    “Some of the present artists think of art as a career, which it shouldn’t be in the usual sense, some seem to be exploiting the situation in a businesslike way, some are perhaps genuinely naïve, but some are cynical. This attitude was introduced into recent art by Andy Warhol, who probably brought it from the commercial art in which he worked. First, art is business. Second, give the people what you think they want. You assume you and the public share similar desires—success fame and money—and also share clichés. Third, you are to be loved and admired for admitting that you’re no better than they are, and even praised for admitting to hungers such as success and to being a little awful. Eugenio Montale wrote in 1962, about when ‘Andy’ came along, that ‘It is no longer a matter of insincerity, but of a boastful declaration of universal ignorance.’”

    -A long discussion not about master-pieces but why there are so few of them Part 1 (1984)

  • ak

    I won’t try to guess who or what was saying what before Judd, but he certainly was concerned with “institutional critique” in his writings, especially his later ones, but I think that importing this into his work is a dubious move at best.

    The following are some relevant quotes. The second is the only substantial comment on Warhol that I could find. Judd was obviously conservative in a lot of ways, with certain limits to what he was willing to accept as good work. Rauschenberg and Duchamp made good work. But the Picasso swipe is funny and at least a little bit true, in my opinion.

    “Until lately we had a guy who found a snow shovel and who talked for decades, producing talking artists. And recently Picasso, who produced junk for forty years, and not much before, is hailed. For my part, I’ve lived in the shade of a coat-hanger and a bed spread. These household goods can’t be an advance on Newman and Pollock.”

    -On Russian art and its relation to my work (1981)

    “Some of the present artists think of art as a career, which it shouldn’t be in the usual sense, some seem to be exploiting the situation in a businesslike way, some are perhaps genuinely naïve, but some are cynical. This attitude was introduced into recent art by Andy Warhol, who probably brought it from the commercial art in which he worked. First, art is business. Second, give the people what you think they want. You assume you and the public share similar desires—success fame and money—and also share clichés. Third, you are to be loved and admired for admitting that you’re no better than they are, and even praised for admitting to hungers such as success and to being a little awful. Eugenio Montale wrote in 1962, about when ‘Andy’ came along, that ‘It is no longer a matter of insincerity, but of a boastful declaration of universal ignorance.’”

    -A long discussion not about master-pieces but why there are so few of them Part 1 (1984)

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Thanks for the quotes.

    Anthony Caro put work on the floor, demanding a horizontal reading. But it was articulated with lots of arty interrelated parts. Judd took those away and insisted that “relations” among parts were bad.

    That does not make him a relational artist in the current sense!

    Lots of artists do radical things within the lineage of their practice without being the forerunners of all things conceptual.

    Is Philip Guston the father of institutional critique because he introduced narrative elements into an abstract painting vocabulary? That was considered pretty rad in its day.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Thanks for the quotes.

    Anthony Caro put work on the floor, demanding a horizontal reading. But it was articulated with lots of arty interrelated parts. Judd took those away and insisted that “relations” among parts were bad.

    That does not make him a relational artist in the current sense!

    Lots of artists do radical things within the lineage of their practice without being the forerunners of all things conceptual.

    Is Philip Guston the father of institutional critique because he introduced narrative elements into an abstract painting vocabulary? That was considered pretty rad in its day.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com artfagcity

    @ak RE: On Russian art and its relation to my work (1981) [by Donald Judd]

    Thanks for that quote. I love it. I guess now I really will have to go seek out the later writing.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com artfagcity

    @ak RE: On Russian art and its relation to my work (1981) [by Donald Judd]

    Thanks for that quote. I love it. I guess now I really will have to go seek out the later writing.

  • ak

    his later writings are amazing. he just rips into certain people and institutions. if i ever run into you i may entrust you with my precious copy of Complete Writings: 1975-1985. wear gloves

  • ak

    his later writings are amazing. he just rips into certain people and institutions. if i ever run into you i may entrust you with my precious copy of Complete Writings: 1975-1985. wear gloves

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    He sounds awfully grumpy in the 1984 quote, though, like a big power in the art world who moved out to the desert to be a hermit and…oh, wait.

    Perhaps ak can give us some context for the “Russian art” quote. You said Judd thought Duchamp made good work but “household goods can’t be an advance on Newman and Pollock” reads like a dis.

    While googling for the 1981 essay I found a funny riposte to an art history professor by ex-Artforum editor Philip Leider:

    http://www.articlearchives.com/reports-reviews-sections/letters-comments/875926-1.html

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    He sounds awfully grumpy in the 1984 quote, though, like a big power in the art world who moved out to the desert to be a hermit and…oh, wait.

    Perhaps ak can give us some context for the “Russian art” quote. You said Judd thought Duchamp made good work but “household goods can’t be an advance on Newman and Pollock” reads like a dis.

    While googling for the 1981 essay I found a funny riposte to an art history professor by ex-Artforum editor Philip Leider:

    http://www.articlearchives.com/reports-reviews-sections/letters-comments/875926-1.html

  • ak

    Sorry if I was ambiguous… I was speaking for myself (and presenting it as an absolute truth), saying that Duchamp and Rauschenberg made good work, contradicting what Judd wrote in that quote. I don’t know if he was that anti-Rauschenberg, I think he appreciated it on some level, but I might be making that up.

    The “Russian art” quote was kind of an aside by way of comparison: the essay is about his development as an artist (from figurative, representational work, to where he ended up) and the influence of Malevich, Tatlin, Mondrian, others and comparing their work with Newman, Pollack, others (the distinction being scale and making space in the latter artists as opposed to discreet units in a “naturalistic” space in the former); and the Duchamp/Picasso/Rauschenberg dis was to contrast the success and reception of these artists as they lived and worked to the relative obscurity of the Russians and Mondrian until it was too late (saying they were neglected and died poor… and the deterioration of art in general (a common theme in his later writings).

    The art historian in tom’s link delivered a pedantic presentation at the Judd Writing symposium… It was basically a prescriptive way of interpreting and appreciating Judd’s work. How to appreciate art, scientifically. Not for me, thanks.

  • ak

    Sorry if I was ambiguous… I was speaking for myself (and presenting it as an absolute truth), saying that Duchamp and Rauschenberg made good work, contradicting what Judd wrote in that quote. I don’t know if he was that anti-Rauschenberg, I think he appreciated it on some level, but I might be making that up.

    The “Russian art” quote was kind of an aside by way of comparison: the essay is about his development as an artist (from figurative, representational work, to where he ended up) and the influence of Malevich, Tatlin, Mondrian, others and comparing their work with Newman, Pollack, others (the distinction being scale and making space in the latter artists as opposed to discreet units in a “naturalistic” space in the former); and the Duchamp/Picasso/Rauschenberg dis was to contrast the success and reception of these artists as they lived and worked to the relative obscurity of the Russians and Mondrian until it was too late (saying they were neglected and died poor… and the deterioration of art in general (a common theme in his later writings).

    The art historian in tom’s link delivered a pedantic presentation at the Judd Writing symposium… It was basically a prescriptive way of interpreting and appreciating Judd’s work. How to appreciate art, scientifically. Not for me, thanks.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Paddy, I’d like to bring this conversation back to your post:

    You said Judd missed the point about Warhol’s work and that his review seems a perfect record of the ’60s “formalist” milieu, in that it incorrectly applies the metric of a Jackson Pollock/abstract expressionist allover painting to Warhol.

    Based on the quotes we’ve been discussing here, I’d say Judd didn’t miss Warhol’s point, he just chose not to accept it, and used the work to discuss propositions he, Judd, is interested in. The “allover” reading is definitely there, Warhol was aware of it, but it’s not the first thing others would discuss, then or now. Judd was being a bad critic but a good artist, using the review to advance his program. Even an artist he appears to like better, Lichtenstein, didn’t get the benefit of a “social critique” spin on his work, a spin Judd knew how to give, based on some of these other writings.

    The concerns of the ’60s aren’t that different from today’s: we still argue over whether an art-for-art’s-sake stance is better than an activist stance.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Paddy, I’d like to bring this conversation back to your post:

    You said Judd missed the point about Warhol’s work and that his review seems a perfect record of the ’60s “formalist” milieu, in that it incorrectly applies the metric of a Jackson Pollock/abstract expressionist allover painting to Warhol.

    Based on the quotes we’ve been discussing here, I’d say Judd didn’t miss Warhol’s point, he just chose not to accept it, and used the work to discuss propositions he, Judd, is interested in. The “allover” reading is definitely there, Warhol was aware of it, but it’s not the first thing others would discuss, then or now. Judd was being a bad critic but a good artist, using the review to advance his program. Even an artist he appears to like better, Lichtenstein, didn’t get the benefit of a “social critique” spin on his work, a spin Judd knew how to give, based on some of these other writings.

    The concerns of the ’60s aren’t that different from today’s: we still argue over whether an art-for-art’s-sake stance is better than an activist stance.

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