Donald Judd: Drawings 1963-93 (3 stars)

Donald Judd: Drawings 1963-93

It’s hard to decide how this display of work by the late American sculptor Donald Judd should be approached. As an insight into the working practice of one of the most celebrated minimalist designers of the 20th century, an artist whose hard-edged and fun but utterly functional designs still exert an influence over everything from modern architecture to the home furnishings at your local IKEA, it’s a show with a certain degree of prominence and allure. The content, however, might be described as somewhat thin in the face of such a body of work.

Around the walls of the Talbot Rice’s Georgian Gallery hang planning sketches made by Judd for many of his most celebrated earlier works, either 3D technical drawings on once-folded pieces of paper with annotated dimensions and notes informally squiggled alongside, or simple 2D plans hastily scrawled in the corner of a page. What text is legible reveals little: ‘Probably longer’ written in capitals below a sketch of a desk, for example. Some of these are apparently drawings of the sculptures themselves after they were made, although the same sense of sketchpad informality prevails.

On a viewing plinth in the centre of the room are arranged actual purchase orders, letters and formalised technical drawings sent to the fabricators who created Judd’s sculptures, and there’s a certain satisfaction of behind-the-veil curiosity in being able to browse them. While there’s a momentarily amusing irony in viewing a show that’s so intrinsically about sculpture but which doesn’t actually contain any, though, even devout followers of Judd’s work won’t find a wealth to investigate here.

Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, until Mon 22 Oct.

Working Papers: Donald Judd Drawings 1963-93

The American artist Donald Judd reshaped 20th century sculpture with his rigorous approach. This exhibition of his working papers looks at the instructional drawings that he created and gives a glimpse into his studio methods. Part of Edinburgh Art Festival.


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