Darkgreen

Donald Judd: Woodcuts











Donald Judd: Woodcuts explores the ideas and techniques behind Judd’s four-decade engagement with woodblock printing. As a printmaker, Judd investigated many of the same questions of form and color that we find in his paintings and three-dimensional works. Judd’s long-term work with prints as well as his large collection of works by master printmakers attest to his belief that printmaking is as serious a form of art as painting or sculpture.

Read Flavin Judd's "The Woodcutter Changes Hands," on Judd's work with woodcuts here.

Image © James Dearing/Judd Foundation Archive. Licensed by VAGA, NY.











Studying printing techniques while at the Art Students League, Judd designed his first prints starting in 1951. Working first with lithographs, Judd shifted his attention to woodcuts, which became his dominant print medium as early as 1953. Judd also explored aquatint, etching and screenprint techniques, sometimes using different techniques to generate the same shape, such as in the case of the parallelogram which he used in his sculpture as well as in woodcuts, etchings, and aquatints. From 1951 to 1993, Judd created 301 prints, two-thirds of which were woodcuts.

 

“In the early 1990s, when we were preparing the 1993 exhibition of the complete prints in The Hague, he took several days in Marfa to show me all the prints he had ever made. That was an enlightening experience. He loved printmaking, and particularly woodcuts because of their sturdiness and strong color. ‘But here in America,’ he said, ‘few people are interested in them.’ ‘They are not big and heroic enough,’ he added sadly, ‘they are only paper.’ But when we talked about and looked at the prints I realized that for him they were important: what was important was the simple practice of counterbalancing colors.”

 

Rudi Fuchs, "Donald Judd (Artist at Work)," in Donald Judd, ed. Nicholas Serota (London: Tate, 2004), 23.


Image © James Dearing/Judd Foundation Archive. Licensed by VAGA, NY.











Untitled (Schellmann 1), 1951-1952

Lithograph in black, on Basingwerk Parchment

19 ¾ x 12 ¾ inches
50.7 x 32.9 cm
Printed by Donald Judd

Unpublished

 

In his earliest prints from the 1950s, Judd explored figuration, as in this untitled lithograph from 1951-2, a view of the Art Students League stairwell. Judd attended the League during the first half of 1948 and the second half of 1949 until 1953. This print was awarded the first prize of $100 at the Washington Square Outdoor Show.

 

“The development of the early work is slow, almost as if it were feeling the way ahead. The artist is looking into the possibilities offered by figuration: a room in a boarding house, a view over the river, trees along the water. Some of the sheets are nothing more than a start, a reflex in his own surroundings or to a landscape he knows.”

 

Marietta Josephus Jitta, “On Series,” in Donald Judd: Prints and Works in Editions (Munich-New York: Edition Schellmann, 1996), 24.

 

Judd Art © Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA, NY.











Untitled (Schellmann 24), 1961-1978
Woodcut in black with cadmium red oil paint verso, on
frostlite vellum paper
18 7/8 x 23 15/16 inches, 48 x 60.8 cm
Printed by Roy C. Judd, Unpublished

 

Throughout the 1950s, Judd’s woodcuts develop a more angular and robust style. Moving away from figuration, Judd explored line, first curved and then straight, repetition, shape, and color.

 

“To examine Judd’s prints as works in progress—through various proofs and trial states—is to encounter something we rarely associate with this artist: the materiality of process….how better to account for the material nature of the thickly inked sheets, which allowed the artist to retain some connection to pictorial practice—to the smell and touch of a worked medium, and to labor rather than manufacture? (In this regard, examine the verso of the black and red prints and you find that the red was laid in as a square of red oil paint thickly brushed onto the back of the sheet, the color showing through the engraved lines of the image printed on the other side.)”  --  Jeffrey Weiss, “Proof,” (Paula Cooper, 2008).

 

Judd Art © Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA, NY.











 

 

Excerpt from Oral History project © Judd Foundation. All rights reserved. 

 











Untitled (Schellmann 27A), 1961-1978

Woodcut in ivory black on offset paper

21 3/4 x 30 1/4 inches, 55.2 x 76.8 cm

Edition 22 of 25, AP

Printed by Roy C. Judd Published by the artist

 

Untitled (DSS 26), 1961

Liquatex and sand on plywood, with routed lines

48 x 96 inches, 122 x 243.8 cm

Lines routed by Roy C. Judd

 

By 1960, Judd began working with his father Roy C. Judd who had started carving the woodblocks and printing his son’s graphic work himself. Roy C. Judd, a longtime woodworking hobbyist also worked with his son on the fabrication of a number of early relief paintings and three-dimensional objects, such as this untitled painting from 1961, in which he routed the plywood to create the two  shapes. Both Judd’s late paintings from the early 1960s (Judd stopped painting after 1962) and his early prints from the same time period demonstrate an interest in lines and intervals and even share identical shapes, as in the example illustrated here.

 

“The first challenge was the small print (“paperclip”) of 1961, the first to have straight lines. It was made from a block of wood with the lines cut out by a router, an electrical woodworking tool. Don drew what he wanted, Roy, the craftsman, routed the lines in the woodblock and took care of the printing.” -- Flavin Judd, “The Woodcutter Changes Hands,” (Paula Cooper, 2008).

Judd Art © Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA, NY.

 












Test prints by Roy C. Judd

 

Untitled (Schellmann 30), 1961-1978
Woodcut in cadmium red on offset paper
21 1/4 x 29 1/2 inches
54 x 75 cm
Edition of 25, 9 APs
Printed by Roy C. Judd
Published by Edition der
Galerie Heiner Friedrich

 

Untitled (Schellmann 31), 1961-1978

Woodcut in cadmium red on offset paper

21 x 29 1/4 inches
53.3 x 74.3 cm
Edition 10 of 25, 3 PP
Printed by Roy C. Judd

Published by Edition der Galerie Heiner Friedrich

 

Untitled (DSS 27), 1962

Oil and wax on canvas

69 x 101 ¾ inches
175.3 x 258.5 cm

 

“In the painting you can see that he was adding sand and texture to the paint and then painting the regular lines carefully on top. He did not like that the lines were still separate from the surface [in the painting], whereas what I think he enjoyed about the woodblocks…is that the whole image is one thing and created a whole—an important principle of his work.” -- Brenda Danilowitz, “Donald Judd: Printmaker,” a lecture hosted by the Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas and given on October 12, 2013 at the Crowley Theater in Marfa, Texas.

Judd Art © Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA, NY.  

 












Untitled (Schellmann 41), 1968-1969

Woodcut in cadmium red on paper

30 1/4 x 21 3/4 inches, 76.8 x 55.2 cm

Edition of 26
Printed by Roy C. Judd Published by the artist

 

Untitled (Schellmann 50), 1968-1969

Woodcut in cadmium red on paper

30 1/4 x 21 3/4 inches, 76.8 x 55.2 cm

Edition of 32
Printed by Roy C. Judd

Published by the artist

 

Untitled (Schellmann 51), 1968-1969

Woodcut in cadmium red on paper

30 1/4 x 21 3/4 inches, 76.8 x 55.2 cm

Edition 2 of 6
Printed by Roy C. Judd

Published by the artist

 

In 1963, Roy C. Judd created the woodblocks for what became Judd’s first large-scale series of prints. Showing three examples here, the series totaled 26 prints with thirteen pairs of parallelograms.

 

“Judd’s choice of the parallelogram is closely connected to his investigation into objects, which was born of his desire to give things a form without resorting to illusion. Initially, the objects were intended as transformations of his paintings, those ‘specific objects’ in which real space is admitted, in which the light sought out and defined the shapes…None of the prints belongs in a certain place in a special order, each one stands for itself. The artist has chosen one form. This one is the one he wants to see, with the fascination of the still-life painter who, again and again, can wonder at the sheer delicacy of a hanging lemon-peel, at the subtle distinction between yellow and white.”-- Marietta Josephus Jitta, “On Series,” in Donald Judd: Prints and Works in Editions (Munich-New York: Edition Schellmann, 1996), 26-7.

 

Judd Art © Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA, NY.

 

 











Archival records from the Donald Judd Archives

 

Roy C. Judd maintained exacting records of the fabrication of the woodblocks and experiments with printing techniques, as seen in these documents. In addition to drawings which detailed the construction and dimensions of the parallelogram woodblocks, Roy also saved his correspondence with Judd and his studio assistants, as well as orderly notations concerning completed works, shipment information, and expenses.

 

“Once he [Don] stopped using the tools himself his art developed into what we are familiar with today. When Don was carving the blocks the shapes were organic. In 1961, when Don started using straight lines, the wavy, flowing lines of 1959-1960 began to disappear. Straight lines, however, are hard to make in wood; they require different tools and more planning. This is where Roy came in. Woodworking has been his hobby for years and his hands were mechanically adept. He could make or fix practically anything.” -- Flavin Judd, “The Woodcutter Changes Hands,” from Donald Judd Woodcuts (New York: Paula Cooper Gallery, 2008).

 

Archival records © Judd Foundation Archives. Licensed by VAGA, NY.











Untitled (Schellmann 153-156), 1986
Set of four (4) woodcuts printed in brown, blue, red, and green on handmade Japanese laid paper
23 5/8 x 31 1/2 inches
60 x 80 cm
Printed by Peter
Kneubühler, Zürich
Published by
Galerie Bernd Klüser, Munich; Edition Schellmann, Munich-New York
Published by the artist

 

Judd created this series of prints for the portfolio “For Joseph Beuys,” 1986, a portfolio of 28 prints with works by artists including, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Andy Warhol, Jannis Kounellis, and many others.

 

“In 1986, a series of four woodcuts was made. The image is a rectangular field that matches the rectangular shape of the paper. Every sheet of the series has a different plain color, one red, one blue, one green and one brown. Each sheet measures 60 x 80 cm. It is a size that suits him and one that he chose every time from then on. The series has something of a declaration. It is simple and almost challenging like the red and blue parallelogram of twenty years earlier. In his graphical work, the series is continually referred to as the basis for new research on the flat surface.” -- Marietta Josephus Jitta, “On Series,” in Donald Judd: Prints and Works in Editions (Munich-New York: Edition Schellmann, 1996), 28.

 

Judd Art © Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA, NY.











In 1991, Donald Judd purchased this large, two-story building, formerly The Crews Hotel, in operation in the 1930s and ‘40s, with the intention of creating a print museum. His plan was to install the complete collection of his prints, spanning the years from 1951 to 1994 in the thirty rooms on the top floor of the Hotel. Although Judd was not able to fully realize this project by his death in 1994, Judd Foundation maintains and makes use of this building as its primary office in Marfa.

 

Image © Flavin Judd/Judd Foundation Archive. Licensed by VAGA, NY.











“Art has long had separate parts but the best work has become, with time and difficulty, preeminent. This is now threatened. An old example from the ’50’s of categorization is printmaking. It was completely separate from art in general and had its own masters…Printmaking seemed to be dead forever. Yet in the ’60’s it was revived by several painters and is now, again, a serious form of art.”

Donald Judd, “A Long Discussion, Not about Master-pieces but Why There Are so Few of Them: Part II,” First published in: Art in America, October 1984, pp. 9-15; reprinted in: Art Monthly, February 1985, pp. 3-9.

Image © James Dearing/Judd Foundation Archive. Licensed by VAGA, NY.

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