‘If You Can’t Find Something Good Enough, You Have to Make It Yourself’: Flavin Judd On Curating His Father’s Work at 101 Spring Street and Beyond

Selection from Donal Judd's set of prints, "Untitled," 1992-93.

Selection from Donald Judd’s set of prints, “Untitled,” 1992–93.


Donald Judd, the key figure of Minimalism, even though he hated that term, purchased the five-story building at 101 Spring Street in New York in 1968, where he lived and worked until his death, refining his thoughts on the intersection of art and architecture. A major renovation of the building, supervised by the artist’s son, Flavin Judd, was completed in 2013, preserving Judd’s installation of the space at the time of his death in 1994. The building is now open to guided public tours and also acts as a headquarters for the Judd Foundation, for which Flavin is co-president. (His sister Rainer is the other co-president.) This summer, the ground floor of Judd’s former home was converted into an exhibition space, where two works by Judd’s contemporary (and his son’s namesake) Dan Flavin are on view through September 19. The next show on the ground floor will feature work from the man himself, with three sets of prints by Judd, dating from 1988 to 1993, going on view October 2.

“We felt that we could utilize the first floor a bit more,” said Flavin. “It’s a great spot. It’s very visible. And there’s a lot of art that we’d like to see. And if we want to see it, other people probably want to see it, too.”

The younger Judd referred to his father exclusively as “Don.” When his son was born, the Judd family was renting a small studio on 19th Street in Manhattan, moving to 101 Spring when Flavin was six months old. Asked what it’s been like to curate shows in the house he grew up in, Flavin said, “Gosh, that is so full of stuff. I don’t know. Spring Street, every space is multiple things at once. Every room contains decades. One room can have feelings of the ’70s, ’80, ’90s, and the present. It’s all a bit confusing for me personally.”

Also on view starting in October will be selections of Judd’s furniture, which the artist began working on while he was constructing his private studios in Marfa, Texas, 200 miles southeast of El Paso. (“If you can’t find something good enough, you have to make it yourself,” Flavin said. “That was very much where the furniture came from because there wasn’t any in Marfa.”) The furniture will be installed in the show because, Flavin said, “we like it, and it’s good to have a place to sit down.”

Judd has long been considered one of the most important postwar American artists, but he’s also experiencing something of a moment in New York right now. In November, after the Spring Street show opens, an exhibition of Judd’s works made with Cor-ten steel will go on view at David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea. Flavin, who is curating the show, said that the pieces have not been exhibited as a group in “almost thirty years.” In 2017, the Museum of Modern Art will host a retrospective of Judd’s career, the artist’s first American museum survey since 1988.

As for the future of 101 Spring Street’s exhibition line-up, Flavin said, “We could have Jeff Koons in there and it would look really great, but that’s not gonna happen,” referring to the gaudy exuberance of that artist’s career, which is not quite in step with Judd’s famous austerity. “It’s about what looks good in the building, and what Don would have been happy to have in the space.”

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