Donald Judd Studio
by Le Beck
Amidst the tourist clutter and overpriced designer mayhem of Soho, there are precious few reminders that not long ago this area was an industrial wasteland and starving-artist haven. One of the remnants of Soho’s history is 101 Spring Street, a building that Donald Judd renovated in 1968 from the shell of a factory to a rustic, yet sleek, studio and living space for his family.
The studio is currently showing a small selection of Judd’s woodblock prints. Judd’s prints, rectangular blocks of color divided by bands of other colors, are a late career reflection on his transition away from sinuous curves, soft forms and blended hues, and towards the clean lines and sharp angles of his sculptures. In rich, velvety colors, Judd works out two dimensionally the methodical, structural divisions of space seen in his mature work. If you are seeking to understand the artist’s process in creating his “stack” sculpture, this is a good place to begin.
During my visit, thick shafts of light penetrated the gallery, and conservation issues aside, acted as an intriguing mimicry of the prints themselves. Guests are invited to sit on examples of Judd’s furniture designs and peruse relevant literary selections, giving the gallery the homey feeling of a coffee shop; all that’s missing is the espresso machine. Even if you are only casually interested in the artist or in printmaking, the gallery is a welcome respite from the surrounding commercialism. The ground floor exhibition is free to the public, though tours of the upper floors are arranged by appointment and book up to a month out. If you’re lucky, there may be a cancellation or no-show for the guided tour of the studio, but don’t count on it.