American artist Donald Judd may be known for his stainless steel and Plexiglas sculptures, but it’s his furniture designs that shine at a new show titled Donald Judd: Specific Furniture, currently on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) through November 4. His rigorous explorations of form in sculpture have carried over to his furniture designs, which compose a parallel practice that began in the 1960s.

The exhibition presents a mix of his work and his acquired pieces that served as major influences. He collected pieces by Alvar Aalto, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Gerrit Rietveld, Rudolph M. Schindler, and Gustav Stickley, who were among the modernist designers that inspired Judd to depart from the ornate and stylistic designs in fashion in the 1930s.

His collection of furniture includes tables, desks, chairs, and beds, featuring a minimalist design language present in his ornament-free paintings and sculptures. “The difference between art and architecture is fundamental,” Judd once wrote. “Furniture and architecture can only be approached as such. Art cannot be imposed upon them. If their nature is seriously considered the art will occur, even art close to art itself.”

Architecture Studio, Judd Foundation, Marfa, Texas; © Judd Foundation (Matthew Millman)

According to a statement from SFMOMA, “his designs exemplify a singular vision of scale and proportion,” allowing for “a focus on details of form and the clear expression of materials.” His Open Side Chair 84 in wood was put alongside his Desk 10 in enameled aluminum in a photo of his architecture studio in Marfa, Texas, where he moved in 1971 and lived and worked until his death in 1994.

Architecture Studio, Judd Foundation, Marfa, Texas; © Judd Foundation (Matthew Millman)

In another photo of his former studio, now the Judd Foundation in Marfa, the delicate Frame Table 70 by Judd was ingeniously coupled with the iconic MR Side Chair by Mies. Frame Table 70’s unique design is said to resonate with Aalto’s Table 70, which sports a similar second-tier shelf detail. All in all, this exhibition repositions Judd’s design work within the twentieth-century canon.

Check out this link for details and tickets.

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