Donald Clarence Judd was born on June 3, 1928 in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. After serving in the United States Army in Korea from 1946-1947, Judd attended the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia; the Art Students League, New York; and Columbia University, New York, where in 1953 he received his B.S. in philosophy and worked towards a master’s in art history under Rudolf Wittkower and Meyer Shapiro. Between 1959-1965, Judd supported himself as an art critic, writing for magazines such as ARTnews,Art Magazine, and Art International.
Judd’s early expression came in the form of paintings, however, his artistic style soon moved away from illusory media and he embraced constructions in which materiality was central to the work. Judd used materials such as metals, plywood, concrete and color-impregnated Plexiglas, that became staples in his artistic practice. Most of his output was in freestanding "specific objects" that used simple, often repeated forms to explore space and its use. During the 1970s, Judd began making room sized installations that transformed the spaces themselves into experiences.
His first solo exhibition was in 1957 at the Panoras Gallery in New York. During his lifetime, Judd exhibited regularly and widely at galleries in New York and across Europe and Japan. The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York held two major exhibitions of his work, in 1968 and in 1988, and more recently, the Tate Modern in London held a show of his work in 2004. In 2020, the Museum of Modern Art in New York opened the first major U.S. retrospective of the artist’s work in three decades. In 1996, the Judd Foundation was formed following the artist's wishes, in Marfa, Texas and at 101 Spring Street in New York. Judd’s work can be found in the collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; the Broad Museum, Los Angeles; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, among others.
Judd moved to Marfa, Texas in 1972, where he lived and worked until his death on February 12, 1994.