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Donald Judd: Colorist

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By William Agee et al, Hatje Cantz, 1999, 144pp. £29.95. (Distributor: Art Books International 020 7720 1503)

For architects, it is not just the old military buildings that Donald Judd adapted in the remote Texan town of Marfa (AJ 2.10.97), or his unrealised architectural projects, that are of interest, writes Andrew Mead; it is his texts and, above all, his sculptures in their treatment of space, material and colour.

Colour is the focus of this new publication, which accompanied an exhibition seen earlier this year in Hanover and Bregenz. As the illustrations in the book make clear, colour became increasingly important for Judd, although as early as 1971 - when the Minimal Art with which Judd was associated was seen as puritanical - the critic Hilton Kramer characterised him as 'a closet hedonist'.

For Judd, though, colour was never divorced from material: 'I don't like plain plywood or plain concrete or plain metal to be considered without colour. To me they are coloured. It's best to consider everything as colour, ' he wrote in 1989. So this book records the properties that materials have in isolation and the effects that are obtained when they combine. Aluminium, Cor-ten, stainless steel, iron, plywood, and plexiglass recur; and when the metals are painted, Judd opts for methods - enamelling, anodising, galvanising - that don't camouflage the nature of the material or its surface quality.

With three solid essays and plenty of reproductions, the book is valuable also for reprinting 'Some Aspects of Color in General and Red and Black in Particular'- a typically trenchant lecture that Judd gave in Amsterdam in 1993 (the year before his death), which illuminates the often complex handling of colour in his later works.

The Bregenz venue for the exhibition was Peter Zumthor's Kunsthaus - especially appropriate, because a separate library and archive building which Judd proposed for the Kunsthaus might soon be realised.

Apparently both site and funding are close to resolution, so there may be an altogether new building by Judd (albeit posthumous) to visit, not just his notable Texan reworkings.

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