Donald Judd Early Woodcuts Trial Proofs
Sol LeWitt Four Towers Structure
In 1973, the first solo exhibition of Donald Judd (1928-1994) took place at Galerie Verna, followed in 1975 by an initial show with Sol LeWitt (1928-2007). This could give the impression that the gallery was thus seeking to become characterized by a clearly defined artistic program, with these two figures seen as outstanding exponents of such. The tendency to focus on the obvious characteristics and force things of art into a fitting and plausible concept of style, subsumed under the perspective of similarity, misses out on the far more revealing aspect, that of significant differences. In the case of epochal artistic achievements, it is these differences that presuppose something comparable and, precisely because of this constellation, provide relevant and substantial insights and views. Common ideas and artistic goals, a parallel commitment to innovation, perceived as a necessity and resulting from a given historical context, form the basis for this. To do justice to the associated achievements, it is essential to have an understanding of art that accords independence, and hence a great significance, to visual cognition.
In softer epochs, everything tries to distinguish itself from everything else, with the questionable outcome that, aside from a slight difference, everything more or less remains the same. A metaphorical coloring and elevation of all these individual cases is incapable of changing anything in this regard over the long run.
‘You see, the thing about my work is that it is a given,’ stated Don Judd in a 1971 interview. The real presence of this given, this known quantity, necessitates complex definitions, inventions and decisions. With the authority of the artist, a matter of great importance to him, Don Judd manifests this strong, prioritized will to presence.
A certain form of absence typifies Sol LeWitt’s strategy. The grid is capable of illustrating this concept quite precisely, as the renunciation of a closed, clearly demarcated volume and of a uniform shape in favor of an open and expanding network.
From a history of mentality perspective, an exclusive conception can thus be countered with an inclusive one without thereby resorting to hasty resentments.
The exhibition presented here shows in exemplary fashion the paths that Judd and LeWitt each took and the ends that were thereby attained.
From Donald Judd, trial proofs are on display from the following early portfolios, with central importance to his work: ‘Untitled 1961-63/1968-69 Set of twenty-six woodcuts in cadmium red’ and ‘Untitled 1961-63/1969 Set of twelve woodcuts in cerulean blue’. They document how the artist moved toward a final version of the prints with proofs pulled by hand. The unusual and unconventional printing process left many possibilities open and also allowed him to visualize slight differences in color, texture, on various paper surfaces.
The work by Sol LeWitt is represented with a large structure entitled ‘Four Towers’ from the last year of his life, joined by a number of ‘Working Drawings’ as well as selected gouaches. ‘Four Towers’ is a major and spectacular work that can be seen as an outstanding legacy.
Artists of the Gallery
January 18 to February 24, 2023
Publisher: ER Publishing, Edited by Molly Warnock
Joseph Egan and Anton Himstedt: Common Ground
Publisher: Josef Albers Museum Quadrat Bottrop, Ulrike Growe