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"Donald Judd" Tag


Donald Judd, Chair


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Donald Judd, Chair

By Mara-Luna & Sharan

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

While walking around De Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam we got the assignment to select one design object out of the Base Collection of the Stedelijk Museum. This object would become our subject for a research about the different approach on information of different media such as the Internet, magazines, books and others.

The selection procedure was not an easy assignment. In some occasions we misinterpreted an artwork for a design work and visa versa. After a search of a few hours we both selected, by coincident, the same object, which was the “Chairs/Ameublement” by Donald Judd. The simple square shapes and the miner variations of the three chairs exhibited caught our attention.

Donald Judd is an American artist and designer most famously known for his minimalist works. Judd is, from origin, an artist and started designing furniture after he moved from Soho, New York to Marfa in 1973, Judd was unsatisfied with the furniture available at the local stores and so he started to build his own furniture such as the beds for his children and tables and chairs for his new home.

Children’s bed

His beautifully and most off all simplistic designed chairs, mostly made out of wood, are easily recognizable due to their primary colours and simple ‘practical’ squared shapes just as other works/furniture he made.

At the very beginning of our research, we started comparing articles of the internet.The first thing we noticed was the difference in the writing style.

In the articles we found on the internet most of the writers played around loosely with their chosen words and used a somewhat simple vocabulary in talking about the work. In the books there was a ‘deeper’ approach to the work of Donald Judd. The books, such as A good chair is a good chair give different insights to his works. There are more comparisons made and different people like curators review his work. This could in the end be seen as a broader perspective on his work.

During our research we stumbled across a great blog at the Rietveld Design Blog.  In this blog the writer explains how to make one of Judd’s chairs from scratch and shows the process step by step. It was interesting to have this absolutely different approach in the research. It gave us an opportunity to dive into Judd’s practicality in the making process of the chairs.

Donald Judd himself mostly describes his furniture in his essays just simply in how they were made and why; the why as in choice of material, shape and space. Not much words are spend on the ‘idea behind’ the chair.

While on the internet – and also in books written about him- his chairs are way more described following the concept of his work and the philosophy of Judd in general.

I think Donald Judd very much wanted to make clear in his specific objects/furniture and in his choice of ‘explaining’ them that the chairs exist as themselves and nothing more than that.

In that sense it was interesting to find this different attitudes in the media we encountered during the research. We found that in everything there is written about, or by Judd himself, there is a certain tension of ‘what can be said and what not’ considering his chairs are, as he says ‘just chairs’.

This also brings us to an interesting other subject within Judd’s approach to his work; the fact that Judd used all his furniture in his own home. He uses his chairs (could we call it his art?) as the chairs that we also use in our home. Just like all the other furniture.

Before we started this research I (Sharan) had planned a trip to New York for during our autumn brake. I did not want to let this great chance go by to also pay a visit the Donald Judd foundation in SoHo New York. Luckily enough there was still one spot available to visit this beautiful and interesting building.

Judd Foundation

 

The building that Judd and his family called home for many years used to be on old sewing factory. Its huge open plan floors, massive windows and high ceiling’s are heaven for any artist to think, create, live and of course host friends and fellow artists.

 

Up on arrival a friendly lady who was our guide for today greeted me. At the ground floor a few paintings by Judd and Manifest Destiny by Carl Andre were exhibited.  We were kindly asked to take a seat on one of Judd’s iconic chairs.

After a small introduction we were guided around the building. The foundation was a very interesting place to visit but I have to say it did really feel like a museum and didn’t fulfill my curiosity. Overall the tour was very sterile and it seemed like the building had lost its living soul and had become purely an exhibition space.

So we can see his work everywhere, even touch it in his own home.  We can all read and talk about it, and have an opinion. The internet gives you words and pictures, the books give you insight and a place in art / design history. We have seen it in the Stedelijk Museum for the first time; no words, no touching, no history.  Just three chairs, in a museum.

The chairs Judd designed are still for sale at the Donald Judd Foundation for the casual sum of almost $3000,-  https://judd.furniture/#chairs-stools

Chair-making for Dummies


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

“A seperate seat for one person, typically with a back and four legs.”

The result of google-searching what is a chair?

 

Donald Judd started making furniture when he moved with his family to a remote town in Texas in 1973. No desirable furniture available in his surrounding area, he got to work himself and began making furniture with the only material at hand, lumberyard-cut pine.

Judd thought a chair had to show the function of the object, as well as the image. To sit on it, and a chair. Separating his art from his furniture, he decided he wanted to make “well functioning” furniture, not an “artist’s furniture”. Now, in his opinion a “well functioning” was determined by the following;

“The art of a chair is not its resemblance to art, but partly its reasonableness,                                       usefulness and scale as a chair.”                                       (Donald Judd from “It’s Hard to Find a Good Lamp” 1993)

Besides that he pointed out that if one was to embark on both the path of furniture making as well as art, that there will be consistent similarities in the interests in form.

I had the choice between either doing theoretical research or practical, research for the essay. For the sake of my own enjoyment and an end result where I  have heart for, I choose the latter. Making the chair and experiencing it Now, here my task started. Figuring out how to make a “well functioning” chair, and keeping in check with Judd’s minimalist aesthetic. Truth be told I was quite excited!

For more information on Judd and his furniture I have the following link;

 (click the yellow dot to click the link)

Chairs man

 

Step one, gather the materials. 

IMG_5774

For me I wanted to put myself a bit in Judd’s situation. To gather from the materials to my disposal. I could’ve chosen to let wood be custom cut for me, but I liked the idea of having to find pieces among the leftovers a lot better. And so I found the pieces of wood that could be used as the parts of my chair.

 

Step two, measuring. 

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With this I had to keep in mind design as well as function. The width of seating had to be comfortable, but not look off-balance compared to the rest of the chair. The height of the seating was the same case. As for the back of the chair, I decided to make it about shoulder height when sitting down. This was because I have the tendency to hunch my shoulders too much while working on projects. And honestly, if I was making a chair anyways, why not make one that would function for more than just another chair in the classroom? Why not make one that would help with my posture as well? Same thing for the smaller compartment under the seating, great for storing materials in case my desk gets too crowded.

 

Step three, cutting. 

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Please be careful when cutting the wood! It is easy to forget to adjust the size, and if you cut one piece entirely or even slightly off, you’re a long way from home. Precision is essential with making a chair as simplistic as the ones by Judd. One centimeter off, and the whole work falls apart. Sometimes even literally.

 

Step four, figuring out how Judd even kept his works together. 

This was easily the hardest part. I love the form of Judd’s chairs, but it was quite complicated to figure out how the wooden chairs remained chairs without any visible nails or use of dovetail joint. I was lucky to receive some help by one of the employees of the wood-workshop. She explained to me that I could make little slits within the wood, to then make one on the other piece of wood which would touch it at the same point. A small oval piece of wood would then be put between the two slits and keep them connected. Kind of like a puzzle piece!

 

Step five, actually putting it together. 

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For someone that has the concentration level of a fruit-fly, this task was a challenge. You have to make sure that all the slits connect perfectly, align perfectly, and that the width between the slits and where the wood is supposed the end, are the same on both pieces.

Then, you try it out. Put it together to make sure that every puzzle piece connects. Ensuring you did it correctly through and through.

IMG_5827

 

Step six, keep it together.

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Besides the slits and wooden pieces, you should add glue to keep the chair a chair. Keep pressure on the points where the joints need to be as tight possible, so it can carry the weight of the average person. Preferably a bit more than that.

Let it dry overnight.

 

Step seven, place it within school. 

The reason I did this, was because the assignment I had gotten was to explore the similarities within Judd’s furniture and de Stijl. And as Judd had said, if one makes both art, furniture and architecture at the same time, there will be consistent similarities of form within all of these. And Gerrit Rietveld, influential artist within de Stijl, happened to do two of these.  My chair standing there, I saw their shapes came together quite nicely. The same geometrical forms, same practicality.

Now if you are interested in finding out more about the combination of these two things, de Stijl and Judd, please click the yellow square!

 

 chairio

Step eight, enjoy your work

Sit on it, drag it around to sit on it in different places, store things within the compartment and revel in the fact you actually made something you can use.

I found a few other enjoyable examples of chairs made from things in your surrounding area.

[click the yellow dot , it will lead you to a fun and educational video]


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