30. Donald Judd | Happenstance

101 Spring Street, New York, 23 September 2022

7-11 March 2023



As to boredom in general, my experience is that most people are mediocre and that that situation does not and will never change. Therefore, some of this text is a struggle with mediocrity and a description of much that is boring, all of which I rather would have missed. Further, ‘mediocrity’ means ‘unthinking’, so it means outrageous greed in regard to people and to land. It means animosity toward efforts that are alive.

– Donald Judd, 09.01.1986 / NOTES, 1986 (Dia Art Foundation)


There’s no reason to run down Anonymous the Mediocre when everyone knows he is, but every reason when Anonymous is thought to be the new earthquake of the century. At the present such tolerance is destructive.

– Donald Judd: A Long Discussion Not About Master-Pieces but Why There Are So Few of Them: Part II, 1984


That’s balanced mediocrity. 

– Donald Judd: Complaints: Part I, 1969



We are starting a new era while suffering increasing mediocrity, a time in which even the ideas of quality and knowledge are disappearing. The integrity and authority of quality and knowledge are disappearing. The integrity and authority of all the arts and of education is being destroyed by the increasing mediocrity.  

– Donald Judd, 20.09.1983 (Yale University School of Art) / Art and Architecture, 1983


When I began going to art school in 1948, the school was so mediocre that it was possible to be self-educated in it.

– Donald Judd: Russian Art in Regard to Myself, 1981


“They” think that there is an outer layer that produces beautiful or reasonable work while underneath there is an inner layer that is the same as they are: mercenary, devious, mediocre, foolish as they.

– Donald Judd: NOTES, 1983



The paradox of bureaucracy is how those who are mediocre can select those who are not to support.

– Donald Judd: NOTES, 1983


If you read what has been written about art in the last fifty years, you read only a mediocre story written by mediocrities from outside and far away.

– Donald Judd: Notes, March to December 1992


The power of the central government, the status of the financiers, and the mediocre taste of both are dignified by art, much of it done by artists very poor most of their lives. 

– Donald Judd: On Installation, 1982



The last mediocre painter in the galley is XXX, once notorious for giving up attraction, which he did not understand anyway, for a weak piecemeal realism. Either way his work is poor.

– Donald Judd: New York City — A World Art Center, 1962


A painting by XXX is mediocre, which is often the case, and one by XXX is poor, which does not often happen.

– Donald Judd: New York City — A World Art Center, 1962


…one or two top artists, several secondary ones, and a few mediocre ones.

– Donald Judd: New York City — A World Art Center, 1962



Some money goes to mediocre artists, wasting the money, which is scarce for good artists, and subverting the activity. Most of the money goes to institutions as support for the arts, actually support for the institutions.

– Donald Judd: A Long Discussion Not About Master-Pieces but Why There Are So Few of Them: Part II, 1984


There is plenty of mediocre art, but there always is. 

– Donald Judd: Local History, 1964



Warhol painted images but then his work is mediocre.

– Donald Judd: Ausstellungsleitungsstreit, 1989


Now it’s being captured by the upper class, the highway class, divisible into upper, middle, and lower mediocre.

– Donald Judd: On Architecture, 1984


“Public,” practically, means the application of many extraneous worries to the art, which favors willing mediocrity.

– Donald Judd: On Installation, 1982


pp791 & 802

Mediocrity is our monster.

[. . .]

Possibilities are the defence against doctrine. The monster larger than the monster of mediocrity is separate and only grim.

– Donald Judd: Monument to the Last Horse: Animo et Fide, 1992


pp358 & 359 & 361

Now and then someone sensible comes along, but is soon gone, while permanently there are Barbara Rose and Hilton Kramer, two critics whose mediocrity I’m sufficiently sure of to mention. Art criticism could be a necessary and interesting activity; for this there must be professional critics with integrity.

[. . .]

They don’t understand that the type has been produced afterward by a few second-rate artists and many mediocre ones, the whole declining steadily to banality, pedantry, and insincerity.

– Donald Judd: A Long Discussion Not About Master-Pieces but Why There Are So Few of Them: Part I, 1983


So far it’s not been a good beginning, but civilization will happen nevertheless and can be bad, to the point of not being a civilization, to barbarism, or mediocrity…

– Donald Judd: Ausstellungsleitungsstreit, 1989


The more you push art into mediocrity, the more special it becomes, since only exclusivity, the type, protects it. This is against the general relevance of good work and against a careful relation of art and architecture, which is very important now. […] Even mediocrity needs some sort of art and architecture. or, another way, there will always be art and architecture, since visible things are not neutral, but these may be bad. The danger is that all good art and architecture will not even be peripheral as now, but will disappear. The culture being formed is excessively, redundantly, commercial.

– Donald Judd: ‘Bilderstreit’, Kunstforum, April/May 1989, pp. 492-503



It’s not enough to report on every mediocrity, to commission every lawn sculpture, to run every beginner through the museums, to be tolerant of everything. Quality, which is thought, breadth, intent, work, endurance, and experience, all comprehensible matters, is nearly the definition of art.

– Donald Judd: A Long Discussion Not About Master-Pieces but Why There Are So Few of Them: Part I, 1983


It’s not thought that is an imposition, it’s mediocrity, the consequence of very little thought, of the easy way out, that is imposed upon the world. Convention and the easiest thing to do — usually not even the cheaper, just easier — determine the appearance of the world.

– Donald Judd: Art and Architecture, 1987


No one can deduce from their work that Newman or Pollock were working for an institution, even indirectly. […] …the civilization of art has now become the independence of the artists, of the individual. There is a lot of pressure to reverse this in order to grab the artist. There is also the tendency of lesser artists to not understand the necessity of independence and to sell out, which can be done crassly or gracefully, but is still servitude.

Intellect and emotion, thought and feeling, and form and content are the same false dichotomy. 

…there is an outer layer that produces beautiful or reasonable work while underneath there is an inner layer that is the same as they are: mercenary, devious, mediocre, foolish as they. 

It’s a paradox that living is so ordinary when it’s so brief and unusual. 

– Donald Judd: NOTES, 1983 [extracts]

Judd Sketchbook 2022







Today’s occupation…


News UK UK Politics

Why King Charles will pay zero inheritance tax on the Queen’s private fortune

A 1993 deal effectively exempts the monarch from inheritance tax in this situation.

Émile Benveniste… 


‘Cut Lawn’ 13.09.2022



Day #1 | New York 


Day #2 | New York: ’Epic Abstraction’* at The Met and the 77th Sitting of the General Assembly at the UN.

*Barnett Newman (1967): “So we actually began…as if painting were not only dead but had never existed.”

[Rembrandt: ‘Woman with a Pink’, early 1660s] 


Day #3 | New York: Paul Auster: ‘The New York Trilogy’, p78



Happenstance: “And yet we are gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction.”


Day #4 | New York: MoMA

“Behind the scenes, the same ruling elite that has been displaying its peacock feathers in one of its ritual medieval moments is preparing an all-out class offensive. That is the significance of Liz Truss and her programme of return to unbridled Thatcherism.” 

[Ad Reinhardt: ‘Number 107’, 1950] 

“This painting is one of several monochromes in which Reinhardt explored the use of a vertical format. The combination of the white paint with the natural color of the underlying canvas emphasizes the composition’s tonal variations. The rough-edged, horizontal brushstrokes of varying length and paint saturation create a bricklike pattern that is at once structured and painterly. Reinhardt developed these brick forms with greater linearity and modularity in paintings such as Abstract Painting (Blue) of 1953.”



Day #6 | New York: Judd 101 Spring Street 11.00am & Reinhardt 732 Broadway West 8th Street

“The installation of my work and of others’ is contemporary with its creation. The work is not disembodied spatially, socially, temporally, as in most museums. The space surrounding my work is crucial to it: as much thought has gone into the installation as into a piece itself. The installations in New York and Marfa are a standard for the installation of my work elsewhere. My work and that of others is often exhibited badly and always for short periods. Somewhere there has to be a place where the installation is well done and permanent. This obviously implies that museums are inadequate for their job. My installations and architecture are very much in defense of my work. Visual, spatial art cannot be reduced to performance. . . . My work and that of my contemporaries that I acquired was not made to be property. It’s simply art. I want the work I have to remain that way. It is not on the market, not for sale, not subject to the ignorance of the public, not open to perversion.” 

Judd met Reinhardt for the first time in the early 1960s, when Judd was living at 53 East Nineteenth Street. “I used to meet—just in the same building, going to get the Sunday New York Times on a Saturday night, it probably happened three or four times, you’d run into Ad Reinhardt, who usually didn’t want to talk either, but he always wanted to talk in the cold, for a half an hour, on the street corner. I never went to his house, but he lived nearby, somewhat.” 

Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967) Abstract Painting, Red, 1952

Oil on canvas 63 × 43 inches (160 × 109.2 cm)

According to Reinhardt’s self-referential “Five Stages of Reinhardt’s Timeless Stylistic Art-Historical Cycle,” this painting may fall in the fourth stage, which the artist described as “early-classical hieratical red, blue, black monochrome square-cross-beam form symmetries of the fifties.”

24.09.2022 | New York: ‘Madison Avenue’ 24.09.2022

Vermeer: ‘Girl Interrupted at Her Music’, 1658-1659


Judd writes, “In Reinhardt’s paintings, just back from the plane of the canvas, there is a flat plane and this seems in turn indefinitely deep.”

Judd installed another painting by Reinhardt, Abstract Painting, Red, 1952, on the second floor of 101 Spring Street.

“In 1966 one hundred and twenty paintings by Reinhardt were shown at the Jewish Museum for longer than usual. These probably will never be assembled again and if assembled will not be the same, since almost all have been damaged and extensively restored. In 1966 these paintings should have been hung and never moved again. Reinhardt died the next year.”

– Donald Judd: ‘On Installation’, 1982

Big Art in a One Horse Town. BBC Two logo. BBC Two · Mon 6 Feb 1995, 23:15 on BBC Two England. Tonight the Late Show examines the work of US sculptor Donald Judd, who died last year after living and working for 20 years in the seemingly hostile environment of Marfa, Texas. Producer Ian MacMillan; Series editor Michael Poole.

https://vimeo.com/405122002 | time: 14:37


“not the part-by-part sequence of a thin experience” 





“Acting and speaking men…” 


“What’s on my mind?” Meyer Schapiro on Cezanne’s apples.



Adam Yarinsky: ‘Preserving Experience’, Apartamento Magazine, Issue 14, 2014

Why did I spend eight years working toward a goal that, if achieved, would efface the evidence of my effort? What could possibly make this an incredibly fulfilling obligation? 

If the project is the restoration of 101 Spring Street, Donald Judd’s home and studio in New York City, the answer is unambiguous. Within this 19th-century cast-iron building, Judd originated his idea for the permanent installation: a carefully calibrated relationship between art and its setting which brings about a profound awareness of space and your relationship to it. Judd intended this place to be what he called the ‘measure’ of his work, where it is encountered exactly as he wished. He modified the architecture to make spaces to live in and to create a context for his own art, as well as his carefully selected collection of art (much of it made by his friends). The result deeply engages each visitor’s perception, as it has my own even after countless visits.





Today… Chia Seeds and Pumpkin Seeds 


Robyn Denny 1957 & ‘Icknield Square’ 2003





Jean-François Lyotard on Barnett Newman, 1991 




“Shifting the measure of the government’s debt back to the measure the Office for Budget Responsibility was using up to January this year, for example, not only eliminates the black hole entirely – it leaves the government with another £14bn to spare against its own target. . . . Austerity means doing the exact opposite of this: it means privileging financial outcomes over real-world impacts.”

– James Meadway | https://labourlist.org/…/labour-must-reject-the…/ 

image: Ad Reinhardt | ‘How to Look at Art’, 1946



RGB: 242, 73, 73


“Since painting is entirely a matter of color and coloring, Hegel can equally well say that painting reaches its culmination in painting carnation.”

– John Sallis: ‘Transfigurements: On the True Sense of Art’, 15 November 2008

19 September 2022 | Rembrandt: ‘Woman with a Pink’, early 1660s, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.


Blinky Palermo: ‘Composition with Eight Red Rectangles’, 1964

Re. Alva Noë: ‘Action and Perception’, Cambridge, 2004



“…but in 1947 I lived in Philadelphia…” [Donald Judd, 1994]





Cadmium red / #e30022 Hex Color Code

The color cadmium red with hexadecimal color code #e30022is a shade of pink-red. In the RGB color model #e30022 is comprised of 89.02% red, 0% green and 13.33% blue. In the HSL color space #e30022 has a hue of 351° (degrees), 100% saturation and 45% lightness. This color has an approximate wavelength of 615.71 nm.

Ad Reinhardt: ‘Abstract Painting, Red’, 1952, MoMA Object number 82.1991, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gifford Phillips [https://www.latimes.com/…/la-xpm-2013-apr-18-la-me…]


RAL 3013


And of course, which red? cadmium red medium, and which black? ivory black. The red could also be cadmium red light, the medium, cadmium red dark or alizarin crimson. In a way, side by side, the red and the black become one color. They become a two-color monochrome. Red and black together are so familiar that they almost form a new unity.

– Donald Judd, 1994, p113


“…we are people who live across borders.”

“We, Saami are one people, united in our own culture, language and history, living in areas which, since time immemorial and up to historical times, we alone inhabited and utilized.”

— Saami Political Program 1986 / Saami Council Statements


“enameled the colors of a display of flesh-colored fingernail polish” 

“I know it was her pink Cadillac” [‘Miss Lucy Pink’, 1962] 

The concluding order is not an essence. The order is not one of control or distillation, but of continual choices, often between accidents. An activity proliferates its own distinctions; an order forms within these. 

– Donald Judd: ‘Chamberlain: Another View’, 1963



1 Grey 24.8% | 2 Black 20.5% | 3 White 17.2% | 4 Blue 17.0% | 5 Red 8.8% | 6 Silver 6.8% | 7 Green 1.1% | 8 Orange 1.0% | 9 Yellow 0.5% | 10 Bronze 0.3%


“…a truth as real as your belly and brain without preconceived ideas or grey-beard dogmas.” – Barnett Newman 

Reinhardt’s Reds 1952 


“Reinhardt’s painting is truly the painting of the limit. It requires pure attention because what is not seen is really what needs to be seen.”

– Jordi Teixidor | https://youtu.be/iNutiJUFpyU



Ad Reinhardt Lecture at Maryland Institute College of Art, undated 

“Si no hacéis preguntas voy a seguir hablando pero preferiría saber si alguno de vosotros tiene algo que decir, y tratare de mostrar que no hay ninguna base para nada de lo que podáis pensar o decir, que no hay nada de lo que podáis decir, acerca del arte que sea verdad. . . . Y otra coa mas, quizá la ultima qui diga – siempre estoy diciendo ultimas cosas – pero… Lo he olvidado.”

“If you don’t ask questions I’m going to keep talking but I’d rather know if any of you have anything to say, and I’ll try to show that there’s no basis for anything you can think or say, that there’s nothing you can say, about of art that is true. . . . And another thing, perhaps the last one I say – I’m always saying the last things – but… I’ve forgotten it.”


London | Day #1  


London | Day #2: translating Emilia Fogelklou’s ‘Det geometriska och det abstrakta’, FORM OCH STRÅLNING, 1958 

Emilia Fogelklou: ‘The Geometric and the Abstract’, FORM AND RADIATION, 1958


As a counterpoint to the reproduction of the fantasy play of the unconscious impulses in the sign of the colours, there is, alongside or earlier, the attraction to the geometric in its different forms, from Cubism’s use of the objects as stereometric building blocks in the composition to the most modern abstract or “concrete” non-figurative art. You have to make the room itself visible.

There was no “empty square.” / “Art purifies itself of all conventional inessentials and returns to its basic principles.” 


London | Day #3: Blackheath  


London | Day #3: Translating René Arcos’ ‘Ce Qui Nait Poème’, 1911




Something, everywhere, does not cease to be born, something which bears fruit in your present.


To make the rhythm easier to understand, I wanted to try a little innovation in the typographic presentation of this poem. 

What makes the musical reading of free verse difficult, for an ear accustomed to classical verse, is, above all, the shifting of caesuras. 

Clever punctuation can be of great service; but it often happens that the use of a comma, which would mark a stop, would be illogical and incorrect grammatically, would also mean with too much importance. And, as too frequent line breaks make, in my opinion, composition typography of the poem, a painful dislocation, it seems to me that a half dash could indicate certain reluctance in the rhythm. 

Still a very imperfect means, for one cannot use it, as one should, sometimes even in the middle of a word.




London | Day #4 / Christmas Day:

Christmas Day Walk:

Kabakov: ‘Monument to a Lost Glove’, 1996




London | Day #5: Eltham Palace / turyātītā and aluminium-leaf ceiling. https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/…/history/description/ 

For 2023… “The symbolic character of the artwork is seen, by Gadamer, not in terms of any form of simple ‘representationalism’, but instead in terms of the character of art as always showing something more than is literally present to us in the work… The artwork, no matter what its medium, opens up, through its symbolic character, a space in which both the world, and our own being in the world, are brought to light as a single, but inexhaustibly rich totality. In the experience of art, we are not merely given a ‘moment’ of vision, but are able to ‘dwell’ along with the work in a way that takes us out of ordinary time into what Gadamer calls ‘fulfilled’ or ‘autonomous’ time.”



London | Day #6: “…if you are interested in a thing it is interesting, and if you are not it is not.” – Donald Judd, 1962  

“Art can be made from very little, so long as the little things acquire a forceful, ‘interesting’ existence.” – Richard Shiff: ‘Judd through Oldenburg’, Tate Papers, 2004 https://www.tate.org.uk/…/tate_papers_2_richard_shiff…

“The really important claim made in behalf of interest is the claim that things happen because of interest.” – Ralph Barton Perry (‘General Theory of Value: Its Meaning and Basic Principles Construed in Terms of Interest’, 1926, in David Raskin’s ‘Judd’s Moral Art’, Tate, London, 2004.


London | Day #7: translating Emilia Fogelklou’s FORM OCH STRÅLNING, 1958 

[Shiff: “…paint is allowed to be paint; its appearance isn’t of illusion, expression, or gesture, but merely traces the artist’s process of manufacture.”] 

Donald Judd: light cadmium red oil and sand on galvanized iron, 1962 

William S. Rubin: ‘Frank Stella’, MoMA NY, 1970

…la feuille qui tombe [Léger]

‘Girl Interrupted at Her Music’ 


London | Day #9: translating Emilia Fogelklou’s FORM OCH STRÅLNING, 1958

“the lack of resistance of colors to time” p47



London | Day #10…





The United Nations designated 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages, and the programme features Mikkal Morottaja, aka Amoc, a poet who raps in Inari Sámi – a language spoken by fewer than 300 people in the world. [. . .] 

Featuring the sounds of melting and retreating ice in the Arctic along with the sounds of creatures living under the ice as an active, low volume soundtrack audible throughout the programme.

“wet air” [she said]