Mission & History

Statement for the Chinati Foundation/La Fundacion Chinati by Donald Judd

This essay first appeared in The Chinati Foundation/La Fundacion Chinati, 1987; Text © Judd Foundation 2007, licensed by VAGA, NY, NY.

The art and architecture of the past that we know is that which remains. The best is that which remains where it was painted, placed or built. Most of the art of the past that could be moved was taken by conquerors. Almost all recent art is conquered as soon as it's made, since it's first shown for sale and once sold is exhibited as foreign in the alien museums. The public has no idea of art other than that it is something portable that can be bought. There is no constructive effort; there is no cooperative effort. This situation is primitive in relation to a few earlier and better times.

Art and architecture - all the arts - do not have to exist in isolation, as they do now. This fault is very much a key to the present society. Architecture is nearly gone, but it, art, all of the arts, in fact all parts of the society, have to be rejoined, and joined more than they have ever been. This would be democratic in a good sense, unlike the present increasing fragmentation into separate but equal categories, equal within the arts, but inferior to the powerful bureaucracies.

Jose Ortega Y Gasset wrote: "Pero 10 mas grave en esa aberracion intelectualista que significa la beateria de la cultura no es eso, sino que consiste en presentar al hombre la cultura, el ensimismamiento, el pensamiento, como una gracia 0 joya que este debe anadir a su vida, por tanto, como algo que se halla por 10 pronto fuera de ella, como si existiese un vivir sin cultura y sin pensar, como si fuese posible vivir sin ensimismarse. Con 10 cual se colocaba a los hombres - como ante el escaparate de una joyeria - en la opcion de adquirir la cultura 0 prescindir de ella. Y, claro esta, ante parejo dilema, a 10 largo de estos anos que estamos vivien do, los hombres no han vacilado, sino que han resuelto ensayar a fondo esto ultimo e intentan rehuir toto ensimismamiento y entregarse a la plena alteracion. "

"But the most dangerous aspect of the intellectual aberration that this 'bigotry of culture' signifies is not this; it consists in presenting culture, withdrawal into one's self, thought, as a grace or jewel that man is to add to his life, hence as something that provisionally lies outside of his life and as if there were life without culture and thought - as if it were possible to live without withdrawing into one's self. Men were set, as it were, before a jeweler's window - were given the choice of acquiring culture or doing without it. And it is clear that, faced with such a dilemma, during the years we are now living through men have not hesitated, but have resolved to explore the second alternative to its limits and are seeking to flee from all abstraction and to give themselves up to the full alteration."


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