The Judd Foundation & Walter De Maria

The Judd Foundation & Walter De Maria

September 18th, 2019:

My visit to The Judd Foundation and the installations by Walter De Maria in SoHo was a great experience because of the fact that they were fresh ways to take a look at art. I got to take a look into the way an artist lived and how his home was an ever-changing art project. I also got to experience installations, unique because of their locations in a now, extremely affluent area of New York that no longer houses artists and their galleries.

The Judd Foundation

After reading the journal Specific Objects by Donald Judd, I think it leaves the reader confused about the artist and works. It is hard to understand what exactly is considered art in his mind with no visuals. Having the opportunity to actually visit The Judd Foundation (his home and studio for a period of time) in New York really helped me make connections between what he wrote and what his art practices were. It is a really unique experience to go into an artist’s home and see how they organized their daily lives; however, more than that I found it influential to see works by Oldenburg, Samaras and Flavin just hung up and displayed in his bedroom and other rooms in the house.

When you look at the façade of the building you would never know that there was such an important piece of art history in front of you. The area has been taken over by boutique stores and the building gets lost in the consumerism surrounding it. Although I wonder what the area looked like prior, I think it is important to recognize how special it is that this building and the art inside of it have been preserved to give us an opportunity to experience part of Donald Judd’s personal life.

The New York Earth Room

The experience of visiting The New York Earth Room was unlike anything else I have experienced. It felt like a completely immersive experience, yet there was still a distance between the audience and the art. You could feel the art around you because of the humidity caused by it, but you were separated from the installation by a plane of glass and the walls around you. I think it is important to recognize how rare an installation like this is; especially considering how expensive real estate has gotten in New York City. Essentially The Earth Room is exactly what the title implies, a room filled with earth material. I began to think about how the room has not begun to grow anything since it has been around since the 1980’s. The man who has been taking care of the site for the last decade answered my questions: he waters the room and rakes it to prevent growth; however, simply put he answered my question by telling me the room is indeed filled with life and continues to cultivate more. The installation is all the more interesting because it is an ever-changing space. As you can see in the pictures below, for a period of time, the lights in the room were lit; however, for the past several years, the lights remain off. The space can really be whatever you want it to be for yourself; some people find it spiritual, some people have devoted their lives to taking care of it or you can look at it and see a room filled with nothing but earth.

Fourth floor, Photo: Joshua White, Judd Foundation Archives © Judd Foundation. Claes Oldenburg, Lucas Samaras and Stephen Flavin/Artists Rights Society
Judd Foundation NYC exterior, Photo: Joshua White – Judd Foundation Archives © Judd Foundation
Walter De Maria, The New York Earth Room, 1977. © The Estate of Walter De Maria. Photo: John Cliett
Walter De Maria, The New York Earth Room, 1977. © The Estate of Walter De Maria.
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