10 Extremely Deadpan Art and Design Quotes by Donald Judd on His Birthday

Inside the mind of the minimalist master.

Donald Judd.
Photo: c4gallery.com.
Donald Judd, Untitled (Bernstein 89-24) (1989) Image: Courtesy of Christie's.

Donald Judd, Untitled (Bernstein 89-24) (1989).
Image: Courtesy of Christie’s.

Today marks the birthday of Donald Judd, the minimalist master who was born on June 3, 1928. Ironically Judd objected to the term “minimalism” because he felt it was too general (see Rising Property Values Are Driving Some Locals Out of Marfa and $1 Million Gift Will Mount Robert Irwin Installation in Marfa).

He is considered one of the most important American postwar artists and his stature in contemporary art has only grown in the decades since his death in 1994. The Museum of Modern Art in New York recently announced it will hold a major retrospective of Judd’s work in the fall of 2017 that will include more than 100 pieces gathered from public and private collections (see Does The New Whitney Herald a Golden Age for New York Institutions?).

The Donald Judd Foundation manages property that the artist acquired during his lifetime including the historic landmark building on Spring Street in Soho and the 15-building complex situated in Marfa, Texas, which includes studios with with artwork by Judd and others, as well as living quarters, offices, and libraries.

In honor of what would have been Judd’s 87th birthday we present some of his more notable quotes below.


Donald Judd’s home and studio on Spring Street in Soho is now a landmarked historic building.
Photo: Sarah Cascone.

On traditional painting:
“I am not interested in the kind of expression that you have when you paint a painting with brush strokes. It’s all right, but it’s already done and I want to do something new.”

On Geometric art:
“Geometric art as such doesn’t mean all that much to me. A lot of the people I admire aren’t doing it. I don’t feel the connection is that way.”

On being easy:
“Usually when someone says a thing is too simple, they’re saying that certain familiar things aren’t there…”

Donald Judd. Photo: c4gallery.com.

Donald Judd.
Photo: c4gallery.com.

On Jackson Pollock:
“Pollock is not an ordinary painter; he’s not an Expressionist in the usual sense. He’s always been pulled in with them, but I think he’s a much more radical artist—more than de Kooning.”

On Edward Hopper:
“I think some of the things I deal with Hopper probably has dealt with also, since it’s somewhat the same environment and I have pretty strong reactions to what this country looks like.”

On Plato:
“I am extremely uninterested in Plato’s idea of form, pure form.”

On the Bauhaus school:
“I consider the Bauhaus too long ago to think about, and I never thought about it much.”

On American culture:
“I don’t think anyone now would say that they’re painting the state of the culture of America. I think that’s too grand and pompous a thing for anybody to claim.”

On good art:  
“It’s good if it’s unusual. I don’t know about difficult.”

On form vs. content:
“What you want to express is a much bigger thing than how you may go at it.”


Donald Judd, Untitled (DSS-422) (1963).Image: Courtesy of Christie's.

Donald Judd, Untitled (DSS-422) (1963).
Image: Courtesy of Christie’s.


Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
  • Access the data behind the headlines with the artnet Price Database.
Article topics