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Donald Judd furniture show opens at SFMOMA

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A study in simplicity

Wooden desks on concrete floor
Architecture Studio, Judd Foundation, Marfa, Texas.
Photo by Matthew Millman © Judd Foundation.

Donald Judd’s biggest fans sit, eat, and lounge on his minimalist furniture. Pretty much everyone else admires it from afar. At the newly opened SFMOMA show, “Donald Judd: Specific Furniture”, you’ll get to do a little bit of both.

Newly fabricated Donald Judd furniture for visitor use outside Donald Judd: Specific Furniture, 2018.
Photo by Katherine Du Tiel

The exhibition is an in-depth look at Judd’s distinct breed of barebones furniture, ranging from his early work to designs he owned to the made-to-order pieces now available for purchase. A special treat is the series of eight newly fabricated Judd pieces outside the gallery that visitors will be able to touch and sit on before and after viewing the show.

The expansive show examines how Judd’s sculptural work informed his furniture, which he began making out of necessity in the early 1970s after buying a building in Soho, New York that needed to be furnished. As SFMOMA puts it, Judd designed his furniture to encourage “unambiguous actions,” like sitting upright, standing or lying flat.

Donald Judd: Specific Furniture, 2018.
Photo by Katherine Du Tiel

Similar to his sculptures, Judd’s furniture is known for its basic compositions. The tables, lamps, chairs, and daybeds are models of efficiency, designed with clean lines and simple materials like lumberyard wood and metals. Looking back, it’s not hard to draw a line from Judd’s work to the relentless beat of Kinfolk minimalism so prevalent today.

Chairs and round side table
Library, 3rd Floor, 101 Spring Street, Judd Foundation, New York.
Photo by Matthew Millman © Judd Foundation
Sketch of table
Donald Judd, drawing for a birch plywood standing writing desk, 27 August 1990; pencil on paper; 8 1/4 x 11 9/16 in. (21 x 29.5 cm).
© Judd Foundation

Donald Judd: Specific Furniture” is on show at SFMOMA through November 4, 2018.