March 28, 2008

Why sculpture will never die

Filed under: Abstraction,Sculpture — Graham Coulter-Smith @ 2:04 pm

Donald Judd, Untitled, 1968This sculpture by Donald Judd (1928-1994) is a rather nice object. One could see it in the home or garden, perhaps, (if it is aluminium). But there is one problem, which is its price: around several hundred thousand dollars, some larger pieces go up to a million or even several million. That probably doesn’t seem strange, after all it is fine art. But Judd didn’t actually make his work, it was fabricated in a factory.

And for this reason it would have been possible to produce any number of them. But then, of course, they wouldn’t be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, or millions; and there would not be the perfectly reasonable promise that these boxes will ascend into the tens-of-millions of dollars as time passes. So we begin to see the mysterious essence of these objects, what we might refer to as their intrinsic “artness”. We also begin to see why Judd produced, or more exactly, hired other people to produce, pretty much the same boxes from the 1960s until his death in the early 1990s. Once one has become canonized by the fine art system, become a “made man” so to speak, the signature style makes perfect sense, although it would be crass to compare it with branding.

1 Comment »

  1. I’m with you on the canonization and haute-pricing of fine art, but, I must say that Judd’s sculptures are worth every darn penny, subcontracted or not, because his sculpting of space (even though they were “branded” specific objects) was unlike no other’s at the time. His sculptures also incorporate insane amounts of movement, with an energy that I feel hadn’t been brought into an otherwise static medium before.

    Comment by Chris Rusak — March 28, 2008 @ 3:58 pm

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