Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, 1965–2018

Solo en Inglès

“The hope was for me as an artist to lose control, and to have my control exist at the level of setting up the experiment.” —Ian Cheng

Hear directly from artists and curators on selected works from Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, 1965–2018.

Donald Judd, Untitled, 1965

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Carol Mancusi-Ungaro: When I started this department of Conservation at the Whitney in 2001, there were a few works that were major in the canon of American art history that were no longer exhibitable. This piece by Judd was one of them.

Narrator: The work had come into the Whitney’s collection a year after Judd made it. It fell into disrepair and was treated before the Whitney’s conservation department was founded. Carol Mancusi-Ungaro is Melva Bucksbaum Associate Director for Conservation and Research.

Carol Mancusi-Ungaro: And then years later, in 1990, Judd, I don't exactly don't know how, but he became aware of the repaint of the boxes, and felt the color was totally unlike the original color and was really unhappy and felt the Whitney should no longer exhibit the piece. And then he died. It therefore became a challenge to me and my department to restore it, in keeping with what Judd would have originally wanted.

So the first thing to do was to determine what the original color looked like. From the plan actually, where he explained the rules that dictated the progression. At the bottom, there is a note that says "HDHF Purple," and we came to determine that was Harley Davidson HiFi Purple, which was the color of the boxes.

Narrator: The conservation team found another work that Judd had made in Harley Davidson HiFi Purple at the Phoenix Art Museum. They used it as a control in determining what this work should look like as they repainted it.

Carol Mancusi-Ungaro: In the meantime, we engaged with an auto restoration person. He saw the color of the Phoenix piece in our studio, and he went away and came back and just matched the color perfectly. So perfectly that when we did our fancy science test, the spectrophotometer test, the color was identical. It was perfect.

Anyway, the piece as you see it today, is restored with the same color that Judd had originally asked to be applied in the sixties, and we think it's true to its original appearance.

A horizontal sculpture made of pink metal boxes hanging on a wall.

Carol Mancusi-Ungaro: When I started this department of Conservation at the Whitney in 2001, there were a few works that were major in the canon of American art history that were no longer exhibitable. This piece by Judd was one of them.

Narrator: The work had come into the Whitney’s collection a year after Judd made it. It fell into disrepair and was treated before the Whitney’s conservation department was founded. Carol Mancusi-Ungaro is Melva Bucksbaum Associate Director for Conservation and Research.

Carol Mancusi-Ungaro: And then years later, in 1990, Judd, I don't exactly don't know how, but he became aware of the repaint of the boxes, and felt the color was totally unlike the original color and was really unhappy and felt the Whitney should no longer exhibit the piece. And then he died. It therefore became a challenge to me and my department to restore it, in keeping with what Judd would have originally wanted.

So the first thing to do was to determine what the original color looked like. From the plan actually, where he explained the rules that dictated the progression. At the bottom, there is a note that says "HDHF Purple," and we came to determine that was Harley Davidson HiFi Purple, which was the color of the boxes.

Narrator: The conservation team found another work that Judd had made in Harley Davidson HiFi Purple at the Phoenix Art Museum. They used it as a control in determining what this work should look like as they repainted it.

Carol Mancusi-Ungaro: In the meantime, we engaged with an auto restoration person. He saw the color of the Phoenix piece in our studio, and he went away and came back and just matched the color perfectly. So perfectly that when we did our fancy science test, the spectrophotometer test, the color was identical. It was perfect.

Anyway, the piece as you see it today, is restored with the same color that Judd had originally asked to be applied in the sixties, and we think it's true to its original appearance.


Donald Judd, Untitled, 1965. Aluminum with nitrocellulose lacquer, 8 1/4 × 253 × 8 1/4 in. (21 × 642.6 × 21 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Howard and Jean Lipman Foundation, Inc. 66.53. © 2018 Judd Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York