Dia Center for the Arts has re-acquired an important work by Donald Judd, comprised of fifteen plywood boxes, from the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas. Dia Director Michael Govan announced that the work will become a centerpiece of Dia's historical collection, which will be installed in the museum's new long-term exhibition spaces in Beacon, New York, in Spring 2003.
The acquisition was made possible by a generous grant from the Houston-based Brown Foundation, Inc. Proceeds from the sale will establish an endowment fund for the benefit of the Chinati Foundation. Made in 1976, the untitled work was first exhibited the following year at Heiner Friedrich Gallery at 141 Wooster Street, New York City. Hailed as one of Judd's most ambitious and successful achievements, it was acquired by Friedrich for the newly formed Dia Art Foundation, founded by himself and Philippa de Menil.
Once among Dia's extensive collection of works by Donald Judd, the piece was donated in 1986 to the Chinati Foundation with the provision that it could eventually be sold to benefit Chinati, a monumental independent museum in Marfa that Judd created to install large-scale contemporary artworks on a long-term basis. These elemental forms - fifteen variations on a box three feet tall and five feet wide, made from 5/8-inch-thick sheets of the finest grade Douglas-fir plywood - exemplify Judd's ability to produce exquisitely complex results by combining essential geometry and common industrial materials.
In the summer of 1977, Ellen Schwartz wrote in Artnews, "Within his self-imposed restrictions, Judd has managed to communicate widely divergent sensations of volume, light, density, weight, and even scale - he is a master of permutations." Kenneth Baker commented, "His recent works in plywood are a laconic argument for pleasure in the particular reality of things. These pieces achieve a maximum energy of incident with a minimum of parts," and Thomas B. Hess called the work "unabashedly radiant" in his 1977 New York Magazine exhibition review. Govan elaborated, "Judd's work is essential to the history of twentieth-century art, but it is especially meaningful in the context of Dia's own history. The combination of intellectual rigor and sensual pleasure Judd achieved in his work is at the core of Dia's entire endeavor." Chinati Director Marianne Stockebrand said, "We are pleased that the works will rejoin Dia's collection and will be seen in the context of other works by Judd's colleagues." The Chinati Foundation includes permanent installations of Judd's sculpture as well as work by his peers, including John Chamberlain and Dan Flavin. At Beacon, Dia will present conjunctions of related works by these artists.
Judd's model for the creative reuse of vernacular buildings for long-term art exhibition has become a defining influence for Dia's projects, notably the Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton, New York, and its exhibition facility in a large warehouse on 22nd Street in Manhattan which opened to the public in 1988. It will also shape Dia's planned renovation of the recently acquired former factory on the Hudson River in Beacon. This acquisition is only the second major purchase by Dia since the 1980s. Last year Dia acquired Richard Serra's Torqued Ellipses with funds donated by Dia's chairman, Leonard Riggio, and Louise Riggio. The works by Serra and Judd join Dia's significant holdings by artists Joseph Beuys, John Chamberlain, Walter De Maria, Dan Flavin, Imi Knoebel, Blinky Palermo, Fred Sandback, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, and Robert Whitman.
Dia Center for the Arts is a tax-exempt charitable organization. Established in 1974, the organization has become one of the largest in the United States dedicated to contemporary art and contemporary culture. In fulfilling this commitment, Dia sustains diverse programming in visual arts, poetry, education, and critical discourse and debate.
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