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Video transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING] SPEAKER 1: We're looking at a sculpture that, in many ways doesn't really seem to be-- SPEAKER 2: A sculpture. SPEAKER 1: Right. SPEAKER 2: It's not free standing. SPEAKER 1: It's not. It's more like a relief. SPEAKER 2: But it's not really a relief. SPEAKER 1: Not really, because there's no background it's attached to. SPEAKER 2: And they're isolated units, all the same. SPEAKER 1: That's right. This is a work by Donald Judd, and it's a piece of minimalist sculpture, and it was done in 1969, and it's an untitled work. He would have had the exact same form replicated over and over again. So each one of those boxes that you see there were not made by him, and it was also made in a factory. So it has a kind of a machine-made aesthetic to it. SPEAKER 2: It somehow seems like it's made to, sort of, interact in the space of a gallery. SPEAKER 1: Absolutely. In fact, he's very specific in giving instructions on how to hang this, how to attach it to the wall. That each one be spaced 6 inches apart. And usually, the first time it was made, it was supposed to be evenly spaced all the way to the ceiling. So it would be somewhat dictated by the height by the normal height of the ceiling. Of course, that would change depending on what space you're hanging it. SPEAKER 2: But this one doesn't do that. SPEAKER 1: I think that's because the photograph that you're looking at, in particular. SPEAKER 2: It's made of something that has a reflective surface. SPEAKER 1: High sheen to it, the outside of it is brass and then, it's difficult to see here, but there are plexi kind of Windows that are the tops of each one of these boxes. So you can see through it. And sometimes, depending on which piece it is, they're intensely colored like pink or kind of a yellowish color or translucent. So it interacts with the space and creates a kind of a shadow and coloristic effect on the wall, the blank wall of the gallery. SPEAKER 2: So should we be thinking back here to sculptures made of bronze? SPEAKER 1: I think so, but also the negation of that. One of the things that Judd and other minimalists are trying to do are to be of their time. So there's that whole tradition that he's continuing of modern art, you know, where you choose the materials and the themes of your own time. And here, to choose something that is brass, which can be used in older art, but to make it look like it's sheet metal, something that comes out of a factory. And in fact, is not made by him, but made by other workers, is very important, and the plexi is an altogether new material. SPEAKER 2: So it really speaks to our factory, industrial culture. SPEAKER 1: Exactly, and it is what it is. It doesn't disguise itself. He's very explicit about not trying to make illusionistic art. So he doesn't want to make a sculpture look like a person or a space that isn't there. And so they're clearly boxes and the plexi allows you to see that they're not solid. So there's a clarity and a literal quality that he wants to bring out. SPEAKER 2: And it also reminds me of skyscraper, other kinds of modernist forms. SPEAKER 1: Right and does evoke that and just the sheer replication of the same form over and over again. SPEAKER 2: Very modern. SPEAKER 1: It suggests machine production and one thing being-- SPEAKER 2: Going shopping and seeing everything the same in the grocery store. SPEAKER 1: Exactly. SPEAKER 2: 900 versions of the same thing. SPEAKER 1: Right. Kind of a product-like quality to it. It's easy to see how the clean qualities of it, the shininess of it, and also the plexi. Maybe at first glance, it seems oversimplified, but on further scrutiny, there's a lot of color and reflection and light at play. [MUSIC PLAYING]