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Donald Judd

A good chair is a good chair

21 September — 14 November 2010

Donald Judd is widely regarded as one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. A key exponent of minimalism, Judd (1928–1994) worked  across art, furniture and architecture.

Ikon presented the first major exhibition in the UK exclusively devoted to Judd’s furniture and related drawings. A good chair is a good chair comprised chairs, beds, shelves, desks and tables made from solid wood, metal and ply, charting the refinement of Judd’s design and production processes.

Crucial to Ikon’s presentation were a number of prototypes made during Judd’s lifetime, including early examples he constructed himself, such as Bookshelves (1968) and Children’s Desk (1977). These are rarely shown outside of his adopted home of Marfa, Texas. Constructed from timber-yard pine planks nailed together, they clearly inform his later designs which became more commercially orientated. Desk and Chair (both 1984), made of clear anodised aluminium and copper respectively, demonstrate Judd’s move from hand-crafted forms to embracing methods of industrial manufacture.

Ten Chairs (1991), fabricated specifically for this exhibition, epitomise the artist’s uncompromising focus on the purity of form; the internal space of each unit being subdivided across a variety of permutations.

Having begun his career as a writer and critic, Judd’s theoretical texts on art and exhibition practice remain strongly relevant, as do his furniture designs which are still manufactured today and continue to resonate in contemporary design practice.

The configuration and scale of art cannot be transposed into furniture and architecture. The intent of art is different from that of the latter, which must be functional. If a chair or a building is not functional, if it appears to be only art, it is ridiculous … Furniture is furniture and is only art in that architecture, ceramics, textiles and many things are art.

Donald Judd, It’s hard to find a good lamp, 1993

A catalogue accompanied the exhibition, priced £25.

This exhibition was organised in partnership with the Judd Foundation.