Born Donald Clarence Judd on June 3, 1928 in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, he served in the United States Army from June 1946 until November 1947. Before he transitioned to work in three dimensions, Judd began as a painter and an art critic, having studied philosophy and art history at Columbia University and painting at the Art Students League. He developed his idea of the permanent installation of his work and collections first in New York, at 101 Spring Street, and later in Marfa, Texas. Throughout his lifetime Judd advocated for the importance of art and artistic expression; he regarded land preservation, empirical knowledge, and engaged citizenship as fundamental aspects of society and he wrote extensively on these and other subjects.
In 1968, Judd purchased his first building, 101 Spring Street, a five-story cast-iron building in New York. At Spring Street, Judd first began the permanent installation of his work as well as works of his contemporaries, a process he would continue throughout his life in both New York and Texas. Judd began to purchase properties in Marfa in 1973 where he would continue permanently installing his work and the work of others until his death in 1994. These spaces, including studios, living quarters, and ranches, reflect the diversity of his life’s work. Judd established the ideas of Judd Foundation in 1977, founded to preserve his art, spaces, libraries, and archives as a standard for the defense of his work. He founded The Chinati Foundation/La Fundación Chinati in 1986 specifically for the permanent installation of large-scale works by himself and his contemporaries.
For almost four decades, Judd exhibited throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia with his work in museum collections worldwide. Major exhibitions of his work include the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1968, 1988); the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1975); Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (1970); and Tate Modern, London (2004). A major retrospective of Judd’s work is forthcoming at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.