David Zwirner gallery recreates Donald Judd's celebrated Baden-Baden show

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The Independent Culture

In 1993, Donald Judd wrote a short essay on art and furniture design, entitled "It Is Hard to Find a Good Lamp" which explored his views on the beauty of art, the functionality of furniture and a possible overlap between the two.

"I am often asked if furniture is art," he wrote. "Furniture is furniture and is only art in that architecture, ceramics, textiles and many things are art. We try to keep the furniture out of art galleries to avoid this confusion, which is far from my thinking."

If he had not died a year later of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, he would have lived to see how true his words would become, decades later, in relation to his own art, and its immense impact on contemporary design, furniture and architecture.

The cultural imprint of the artist, who died $7m in debt (just $200 in his bank account) and smarting at what he felt was a lack of recognition for his work, is, in the words of the New York gallerist David Zwirner, "all around us": the aesthetic of the sleek white Apple stores, the spectacular simplicity of the Calvin Klein store in New York, the configuration of modern gallery spaces, can all be seen as Judd-inspired.

Zwirner's eponymous gallery is currently staging a major exhibition, which is a recreation of Judd's celebrated show in Baden-Baden, in 1989, after Flavin Judd, the artist's son, had the idea to reconstruct the iconic show at Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, in Germany, in accordance with the late artist's intentions to draw attention to an object in a space, and to the environment that it occupies.

It originally consisted of 12 identical, anodised aluminium boxes placed in relation to each other across a massive gallery space. Zwirner and Flavin Judd have brought nine of the 12 boxes together (with some works on sale) to be displayed across five rooms. This body of work, hailed in Europe at the time as groundbreaking, had not been seen in America until now.

Zwirner believes there is now a re-assessment of just how deeply Judd's minimalist philosophy has penetrated popular culture.

"There is not a single designer or architect that does not reference him," he says. "The way people are living is very Judd. If you look at visual art and culture, his influence is endless."

Donald Judd at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York ( www.davidzwirner.com)

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