L: 101 Spring Street; New York Architecture Images
R: 101 Spring Street, int. © 1995-2003 Paul W.H. Kan [more images]
Donald Judd Sculptures to Be Auctioned
By CAROL VOGEL
Published: February 24, 2006
In an effort to create a $20 million endowment for the support of its permanent installations in New York and Texas, the Donald Judd Foundation has decided to sell about 35 Judd sculptures at Christie's in New York on May 9.
"Between New York and Marfa, we have 16 permanently installed buildings," said Barbara Hunt McLanahan, director of the 10-year-old foundation, formed after the 1994 death of Mr. Judd to preserve his living and working spaces in New York and Marfa, Tex. "This was not a decision taken lightly. We considered all our options, and this is the best option."
Not everyone agrees. Marianne Stockebrand, whom Mr. Judd appointed as director and lifetime trustee of the foundation, recently resigned, largely over the sale. "I have a different view," said Ms. Stockebrand, director of the Chinati Foundation, the Marfa-based institution founded by Mr. Judd with help from the Dia Art Foundation in 1979 to house large-scale installations by him and a few other artists. "I was in favor of a slower approach, to sell things one at a time and place them in collections carefully, which would have been better for Judd's legacy. With auctions, you have no control over where things go."
Ms. Hunt McLanahan said the sale was very much in keeping with Mr. Judd's belief in permanent installations; he considered the environment in which art is placed as important as the art itself. In his will, Mr. Judd stated, such "works of art which I own at the time of my death as are installed at 101 Spring Street in New York City, or in Marfa, Tex., will be preserved where they are installed."
His home and studio on Spring Street, which he bought in 1968, was a laboratory for his ideas and includes works by Mr. Judd, Dan Flavin, Frank Stella, John Chamberlain, Carl Andre and Claes Oldenburg. At present it is open to the public by appointment only, but after the sale, Ms. Hunt McLanahan said, she expects to make it more accessible.
In the sale are primarily late works, from the late 1980's and early 90's. Prices range from $30,000 to $40,000 for a small wood block from the 1960's to $1.5 million to $2 million for a stack plywood sculpture from 1993.
Christie's is treating the sale as an event to attract art lovers as well as potential buyers. From April 1 through May 9, the works will be on view on the 20th floor of 1230 Avenue of the Americas, at 49th Street, where Christie's has rented 16,000 square feet. Flavin Judd, the artist's son, will collaborate on the installation with Christie's experts, and a special catalog will include unpublished essays by Mr. Judd.
"This will be the largest grouping of Judd's work on view in this country since the last major retrospective, which was at the Whitney in 1988," said Brett Gorvy, a co-head of postwar and contemporary art for Christie's worldwide. "Many of the works for sale were also in the Tate's exhibition last year."
Asked if Christie's was worried about flooding the market by offering too many works by Mr. Judd at once, Mr. Gorvy said: "We've been very selective, choosing a spread of works that covers the gamut of our collecting base. As we did with de Kooning last year, we believe that by creating excitement around an artist, you can get phenomenal prices."
Winning the collection was competitive. Both Christie's and its archrival, Sotheby's, offered the foundation a guarantee, an undisclosed minimum sum regardless of the outcome of the sale. While neither auction house will say how much it offered, experts familiar with the negotiations say both were prepared to promise the foundation about $20 million. Ms. Hunt McLanahan said it chose Christie's because it "came forward with the best proposal and organization."