Arts & Culture » Arts

In the Galleries - Donald Judd: The Multicolored Works at the Pulitzer

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If there's a way to think of color not as color, Donald Judd (1928-1994) figured it out, devoting the last decade of his single-minded career to deploying this fundamental and, to Judd, bedeviling aspect of art as objectively non-expressive. This exhibition collects twenty-plus works from the Great Minimalist Dictator's final formalist chapter, installing the long, boxy, aluminum pieces as he assiduously specified — at eye level or just above average height — throughout the stately Pulitzer. And they are, indeed, multicolored — but pigmented without human intervention via an industrial process and standardized color chart. What do these purposefully discordant hues do, then, if they're not meant to ignite the usual sensualist response? As in all of Judd's work, they're just another means to orchestrate space: the bright yellows, reds, maroons, and teals refract light and expand perceived dimensionality, thrusting the viewing experience beyond the piece at hand to an expansive attention to what surrounds it. Composed of bent sheets of metal that form shallow, open-ended boxes that are screwed together in narrow, rectilinear collections, the untitled works feature hollow cores that, when peered through, magically erase color and create yet another frame for space. Whether one actually resists the pleasures of the spectrum for its more conceptual effects is perhaps beyond Judd's grip; after all, these things are handsome and prettily painted. But they are insistently austere. So if, by the show's final gallery, you're dying for some old-fashioned evidence of the hand, a charming collection of the artist's drawings, collages and notes lines the lower hallway. Through January 4, 2014, at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, 3716 Washington Boulevard; 314-754-1850 or www.pulitzerarts.org. Hours: noon-5 p.m. Wed., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.

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