Judd, a consummate individualist, refused labels that would have grouped him with other artists. Though most of his works had three dimensions, he didn’t think they should be classified as “sculptures.” They weren’t, in his estimation, “composed” or “arranged on a central core.” Instead, they were fabricated like furniture. Yet Judd’s work wasn’t furniture—as it wasn’t functional—nor was it painting, performance, design, or architecture. When Rose prompted him to classify his output in the 1960s, he told her: “I don’t know what it is, and I don’t feel that I have to give it a title.”
Judd was similarly recalcitrant when his interviewers attempted to define any term related to art. When asked what constitutes an artwork’s “presence,” or special aura, the artist was terse. “It means the work is very good and interesting. That’s about all it means,” he said. He advocated eliminating the term “classic” from art-historical discourse, and he was no fan of the word “romantic,” either. Ultimately, Judd held tight to the idea that artists shouldn’t have to explain themselves. Good art could speak for itself.
Judd also disparaged American museums, accusing them of creating meaningless group shows, handling artwork badly, and mistreating artists. In 1986, he established his own institution, the Chinati Foundation, in Marfa, Texas. A permanent collection and long-term installations, curated to Judd’s standards, ensured a substantive, continuous dialogue between artwork and the land itself.