I Hate Symmetry and Order

I Hate Symmetry and Order

“The history of modern art is also the history of the progressive loss of art’s audience. Art has increasingly become the concern of the artist and the bafflement of the public.” —Paul Gaugin

Fuck Donald Judd.
Fuck those hundred boxes of brushed aluminum.
Fuck skyscrapers, fuck spheres and cubes.

Judd's Boxes

Dull, dull, dull, dull, dull

Nothing in nature is symmetrical. I reject all symmetrical art on the grounds that it is hubris and a slap in the face to the natural order of things.

My glasses hang slightly crooked on my face no matter what i do. When I look closely at my hands they are subtly different from one another.

I’m sick and tired of people pushing ‘minimalism’ and ‘symmetry’ and sans serif typefaces on us.

Oh yeah. Fuck the Chinati Foundation. You own a half a billion dollars worth of modern art and you’re asking me for money? No, I do not want to attend a gala event at $500 a head. No, I am not interested in new books on the Judd oeuvre. No, I do not want to take my three-year-old and brainwash him into a Juddite.

Donald Judd is from Excelsior Springs, Missouri. The hundred boxes are just a scale model of a mid-western town. One hundred boxes on a grid.

I wish I was an art critic… then I would have a more clever way of saying this. But I’m not. I’m just someone sick of all the authority figures who push an emotionally sterile, anal-retentive view of reality on us.

The world isn’t symmetrical. People aren’t symmetrical. Their emotions and love certainly isn’t (can you name one single couple who love each other equally?)

I’m seeing similar reactions to Judd’s work in the art press:

But, after this initial enthusiasm, I soon began to experience box fatigue. Initially assuming an air of the implacable in their machined perfection, the boxes secretly want you to find them fascinating, to like them. However, Judd’s endlessly clever improvisations on the boxes’ structure actually serve to trivialize them. We look at them and their permutations, as isolated instances, forgetting that they are supposed to be components of something much larger. The variety itself sooner or later becomes tiresome and boring, or simply too much to take in. The variations are really just an empty formal strategy, an arbitrary problem the artist set up for himself. They don’t interact with each other, creating a dynamic movement, a musical counterpoint, that plays out through the piece as a whole. Therefore, the boxes never coalesce into a unified experience. As a collection of individual iterations exploring a single idea, the work in the Artillery Sheds is, up to a point, fascinating, but it very quickly becomes just one damn thing after another. The modular premise underlying the work, with its tension between overall unity and the autonomy of each module, was stretched to the breaking point by Judd’s overreaching ambition. Judd was aiming very, very high here, and didn’t make it. As a coherent work of art, I think we have to count 100 Boxes a failure.

This conclusion raises a disturbing question. Why is a failed artistic endeavor being enshrined like this? Judd is an artist who deserves our attention, but the degree of cultural canonization and institutional validation that has been conferred on his work at Marfa is commensurate with the very highest levels of achievement. Who decided that Judd’s legacy is that important? Well, for one, Judd himself, aided and abetted by a coterie of partisans of Judd’s idealist avant-gardism within the rarefied upper echelons of the American art world. Judd’s really big dreams were realized not in response to a deeply felt need in the society at large, or even because of official recognition on the part of the State, but through the decisions of a very small number of self-appointed people with, crucially, access to capital.