- Words by Mr Mansel Fletcher, Features Editor, MR PORTER
There are many emotions evoked by the opening of the home of the late artist Mr Donald Judd, but envy may well be the strongest among them. How else to respond when confronted with the newly renovated 101 Spring Street, in New York's SoHo, which was Mr Judd's home (alongside his properties in Marfa, Texas) between 1968, when he moved in, and his death in 1994? It's in one of the most expensive districts in one of the world's most exciting cities; it's full of sublime works of art and the interiors are a unique collision between the building's industrial past and its visionary resident.
It's in one of the most expensive districts in the world. It's full of sublime works of art and the interiors are a collision between the building's industrial past and visionary resident
Mr Judd was an art critic, and then an artist who came to prominence as a sculptor in the 1960s and 1970s. While he was uncomfortable with being called a minimalist, the simplicity of his work, much of which consists of wooden, metal or concrete volumes, makes it an almost irresistible label. However, visitors to 101 Spring Street, which opened on 18 June after a three-year restoration, will acquaint themselves with Mr Judd's facility for collecting art, interior design and curating at least as much as with his talents as an artist.
A portrait of Mr Judd by Mr Christopher Felver, 1992. Photo: Corbis
The building's handsome structure, which was designed by Mr Nicholas Whyte in 1870, was originally used as a garment factory before Mr Judd bought it for $68,000. The oil used on the sewing machines stained the building's walls throughout Mr Judd's occupancy (much to his irritation), and is still visible today. The building is made from cast iron and has so many windows that its design appears to anticipate the glass curtain walls pioneered by the modernist architects of the 1930s. Mr Judd reconfigured the interior to discreetly accommodate the life of his then-young family, and then added a further layer of design appeal by installing his extraordinary collection of art and furniture.
101 Spring Street, New York
101 Spring Street exterior, 2013
Mr Judd bought the five-story building, which also has two basements, for $65,000 in 1968. Photo: Josh White. Courtesy Judd Foundation Archives
fourth floor, 2013
The large painting on the wall is by Mr Stella, while the furniture pieces were crafted by Mr Judd. Photo: Rainer Judd. Courtesy Judd Foundation Archives. Art: © Frank Stella. Furniture: Donald Judd Furniture™ © Judd Foundation
fifth floor, 2013
The fluorescent lights comprise an untitled work by Mr Flavin from 1970, while the wall on the right is occupied by Mr John Chamberlain's 1961 work "Mr Press" (back) and an untitled piece by Mr Judd (adjacent to bed). Photo: Josh White. Courtesy Judd Foundation Archives. Art: © Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA, New York. © John Chamberlain. Dan Flavin © Stephen Flavin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Furniture: Donald Judd Furniture™ © Judd Foundation
first floor, 2013
The sculpture mounted on the wall is by Mr Judd. Photo: Josh White. Courtesy Judd Foundation Archives. Art: © Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA, New York
second floor, 2013
An antique cast-iron pot-belly Franklin stove in the kitchen and dining space. Photo: Josh White. Courtesy Judd Foundation Archives
If the building only contained furniture and art designed by Mr Judd (much of his work blurred the lines between these two categories) then it would be still very significant, such is the importance of his work, but Mr Judd was a collector as well as a creator. The fifth-floor bedroom, for instance, contains a unique bed of Mr Judd's design, as well as imposing work by the artists Mr Dan Flavin and Mr Claes Oldenburg. Elsewhere, among the thousand works of art in the building, there are pieces by Mr Marcel Duchamp and Mr Frank Stella.
The way that Mr Judd turned 101 Spring Street into a post-industrial home changed the way that people live in cities and transformed an entire district of Manhattan. It's also the perfect environment in which to appreciate the purity of his work, a purity that retains its power to shock 50 years after he came to prominence.
Guided Visits to 101 Spring Street, New York, are offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 1pm, 3pm and 5pm. juddfoundation.org