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March 21 2020
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Clear aluminum and blue Plexiglas comprise Donald Judd’s Untitled, 1969. By the late 1960s, Judd had achieved his dream of a machine-perfected art fabricated in absentia of the artist.

It’s been 32 years since a retrospective of Donald Judd’s work has been put on in this country, and the one that is on now at the Museum of Modern Art (closed temporarily due to the coronavirus) is only the second. Judd’s work—which he called “three-dimensional objects,” not “sculpture,” a word strapped with baggage—is hard for a museum to exhibit in the way the artist intended, giving the often large pieces plenty of room to breathe (no security barriers, please) and grouping them alone or among the work of a few kindred spirits. As a result, an entire generation, save for hardcore fans who have hoofed it to Marfa, the remote West Texas cow town that became Judd’s Utopia in progress, hasn’t had a true encounter with the artist many consider to be one of the most influential of his generation, if not the entire second half of the 20th century.

Here’s your unusual—and extensive—chance. In addition to the main event at MoMA, there are concurrent satellite shows (also subject to temporary closures due to the coronavirus) in no fewer than three other locations: Gagosian Gallery (“Artwork: 1980,” a showing of Judd’s largest work in plywood, is on through April 11); David Zwirner (“Artworks: 1970–1994,” curated by the artist’s son, Flavin Judd, opens April 18); and the Judd Foundation (“Prints: 1992” is on through July 11). As an immersion in his totality of vision—where exhibition space and art are self-reinforcing experience enhancers, and the work on view happens to be a cherry-picked selection of the first order—Manhattan will, in a reversal of geographic circumstance, become an outpost of Marfa, without the stagecoach connection through El Paso.

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