Art Market

Market Brief: Donald Judd’s Foundation and Estate Join Gagosian, Setting Stage for Global Push

Kaylie Felsberg
Sep 17, 2021 9:10PM

Donald Judd, Untitled, 1980. Photo by Rob McKeever. © 2021 Judd Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy of Gagosian.

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On Wednesday, it was announced that the estate and foundation of legendary Minimalist artist Donald Judd would split with longtime representative David Zwirner to join another of the world’s most powerful galleries, Gagosian. The artist’s history with the gallery goes back nearly four decades, to a 1982 solo show at Gagosian in Los Angeles. More recently, in March of last year, both Gagosian and Zwirner opened solo exhibitions of Judd’s work in New York to coincide with the artist’s major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. The presentation at Gagosian displayed Judd’s Untitled (1980), a monumental 80-foot-wide plywood sculpture—the first time the piece was shown in New York since it was exhibited at the Castelli Gallery in 1981. Meanwhile, the survey at David Zwirner presented Judd’s work from 1970 to 1994.

Famous for his meticulous “stack” sculptures—which account for 8 of his 10 biggest auction results—among other breakthroughs, Judd, who passed away in 1994, worked with many of New York’s most influential gallerists over his four-decade career, from Leo Castelli and Paula Cooper to Pace Gallery’s Arne Glimcher. The move to Gagosian—with its vast spaces across the U.S., Europe, and Asia—opens the door further for the international broadening of Judd’s collector base. (The Judd Foundation will continue to be represented by Thaddaeus Ropac in Europe.)

Key figures

  • Judd first studied and practiced painting in the 1950s, and in 1966, he had his first exhibition with Castelli, who represented Judd for nearly two decades—a period marked by a series of increasingly high-profile exhibitions for the artist. Two years after Judd’s debut with Castelli, he had a solo show at the Whitney Museum featuring more than 30 works, which reflected the diversity of the materials and forms he was working with at the time. That show traveled to the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven and London’s Whitechapel Gallery in 1970. Ten years later, he was featured in the main exhibition at the Venice Biennale.
  • In 1985, Judd joined Paula Cooper Gallery. That same year, the artist had his first solo show with the New York–based gallery, and his work made its debut on the secondary market. An untitled stainless-steel installation of 27 identical squares from 1976–77 sold for $49,500 at a Sotheby’s auction in New York, just short of its $50,000 high estimate.
  • For more than a decade following that 1985 auction debut, Judd’s work performed modestly on the secondary market. In 2002, however, his market saw its first auction breakthrough when untitled (1966–67), a steel and amber plexi work of six boxes horizontally mounted on a wall, fetched a staggering $4.6 million at a Christie’s sale in New York. That record was surpassed in 2007 with the $9.8 million sale of Judd’s 1977 untitled galvanized iron and transparent blue plexiglass stack, also at Christie’s in New York.
  • In 1990, four years before his death, Judd joined Pace Gallery. Then, in 2010, the Judd Foundation and his estate partnered with David Zwirner, which held its first solo show of his work the following year.
  • Judd’s current auction record was set in 2013 at a Christie’s sale in New York when untitled (1963), a sculpture with red and black oil on wood with galvanized iron and aluminium, sold for $14.2 million. Though the work fell short of its high estimate of $15 million, the result was a nearly 50% increase from Judd’s previous secondary-market peak. Last June, a work similar to that record-setting sculpture from 1963—this one from 1962—became Judd’s fourth-highest auction result when it surpassed its $6 million high estimate to sell for $9.8 million at a Sotheby’s sale in New York.
  • On the gallery front, Judd’s sculptures often sell in the six- and low seven-figure ranges. At Art Basel in Miami Beach in 2019, Thaddaeus Ropac sold an untitled 1991 clear anodized aluminium piece with yellow over black acrylic sheets for $900,000. And at the 2020 online-only edition of Art Basel in Basel, Anthony Meier Fine Arts sold a striking anodized aluminum work, Untitled (87–33) (1987), with an asking price of $1.85 million.
  • By comparison, Judd’s functional furniture creations are relatively affordable: At the 2020 virtual edition of Frieze New York, Salon 94 offered two aluminum chairs by the artist, Chair 2 and Corner Chair 15 (both 1984), for $7,500 and $8,000, respectively.


Donald Judd
Untitled (S.#259-260), 1992-1994
Brooke Alexander, Inc.

On Artsy, collectors’ interest in Judd’s sculptures made from industrial, mass-produced materials and works from his prolific printmaking practice spiked in 2017, when the number of inquiries on his work more than doubled from the previous year. Since then, demand for his work has remained consistently high year over year. The acclaim from last year’s MoMA retrospective and now the support of Gagosian seem poised to push interest in Judd’s work into new regions and markets.

Browse available works by Donald Judd.

Kaylie Felsberg

Thumbnail image: Portrait of Donald Judd in Architecture Studio, Marfa, Texas, 1993. Photo © Laura Wilson. © 2021 Judd Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Laura Wilson. Courtesy of Judd Foundation and Gagosian.

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