Donald Judd Sculptures to Be Auctioned
2.25.2006 By CAROL VOGEL
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."
Americans in Paris
The Chicago-based Terra Foundation for American Art and the Louvre in Paris will collaborate on "American Artists and the Louvre," a show of 30 works from the Terra and other American institutions that will be on view at the Louvre from June 14 to Sept. 18. It will be one of the few times that American art will be on view at the Louvre in its 212-year history.
"The show focuses on two main themes," said Olivier Meslay, a curator at the Louvre. The first, organized by Mr. Meslay, will explore the period 1760 to 1860 and will examine the ties between the United States and France, when Americans first began to study there and exhibit in the annual salon at the Louvre. The second part, organized by Elizabeth Kennedy, the Terra Foundation's curator, will deal with the works by artists who studied in France, including Thomas Hart Benton, Thomas Eakins and Edward Hopper.
An Opening in New Orleans
The New Orleans Museum of Art will reopen on March 3. But instead of being open six days a week, as it had been before suffering the wrath of Hurricane Katrina six months ago, it will be open three: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The institution will also be a far diminished place. "On Dec. 10 we opened the sculpture garden and got only 10 percent of the attendance that we had pre-Katrina," said E. John Bullard, the museum's director. Now admission will be free for Louisiana residents with the help of a grant from the New Orleans-based Helis Foundation, which, before Katrina, had financed free admission for local residents on Thursday nights. Out-of-state visitors will have to pay the regular admission, $8 for adults and $4 for children.
The museum will have half the staff that it once had, although with nearly $3 million in recovery support from foundations, it has been able to rehire some of the staff members laid off in October. "A lot of people aren't coming back," Mr. Bullard said. "Some can't handle the stress."