With our focus on all things Time thanks to the launch of Standard Time, one person who immediately sprang to mind was Rainer Judd, the daughter of pioneering artist Donald Judd and co-president of Judd Foundation. Devoted to managing her father’s spaces and furthering his ideas, Rainer is someone with a unique relationship to time. Her childhood homes in New York and Marfa, Texas, have been fastidiously preserved and made available to the public as crucial contexts in which to view and understand Donald Judd’s multifaceted body of work, which, in addition to three-dimensional works and drawings, encompasses writing, furniture, design, and architecture. In light of her relationship to the past and present, we asked Rainer to reflect on the concept of Timelessness, and as expected, she had much to share.
About seven years ago, I finally got over the notion of being born in the wrong time. I looked around, engaged with some particularly inspired creative people, and came to see that this time needs me and my particular old-fashioned ways. Owning up to being in your time is akin to being compelled by your own life: you are the only one who can be you; the experiences you had as a child relate to the rest of your life.
I’m interested in the connection between an individual’s personal experience and their work in a chosen field. The notion of a design or artwork, story or place, having a timelessness means to me that a person or a group of people used their own experience to such specificity that they transcended the details of the current society and created something timeless and what some call “universal.”
A computer cannot design a good building. It has, at this point anyway, no experience of the myriad senses of scale, light, and proportion. Don studied harmony and unity, proportion and symmetry, color and light, time and space, and put this research through his own personal experience of standing in a room or standing on a hill. He used knowledge to complement and extend his natural intelligence and perception. This is all you can do.
Whether or not the Earth’s ecosystems will survive man’s effect on them and live on is not entirely certain. Our inclinations to stability, comfort, community, and independence vary. As does our potential for understanding our existence in our present world, our place in human civilization’s and Earth’s time. Our awareness of human evolution is pretty narrow, but spiritual leaders, artists, scientists, designers, and many others have a role in our evolution in a piecemeal but cumulative way.
The balance between your own process and that of your community is important. When an individual, or group of people, is able to pull a valuable idea from the past and apply it to their own specific circumstances in the present, it is an equation for invention. Such insight can bring about a revelation for all.
This fall, the Foundation will publish Donald Judd Writings, which compiles previously published essays, alongside hundreds of unpublished notes and letters from its archives, commenting on art, activism, politics, architecture, design, and land use, among other topics.
If you’re staying at The Standard, East Village or High Line, tours of 101 Spring Street, Donald Judd’s living and work space in New York, can be arranged by visiting juddfoundation.org.