Donald Judd’s library

by Anna Blanch on May 27, 2010

Donald Judd’s Library in Marfa, Texas. Some of us have enough books to fill a shed, but i am not sure how many of us would put them in one.

Apartment Therapy reports that according to Barbara Hunt McLanahan, executive director of the Donald Judd Foundation, Judd had “an insatiable appetite for books, beyond even what he was able to read himself.” The library consists of over 13,000 books, which Judd meticulously arranged and catalogued himself. The shelves also feature small curiosities collected from the his travels, such as a pack of nude Danish playing cards, snake skeletons, magnifying glasses and tons of rocks. 

I guess we all have weird things in our libraries and i’m not exactly one who can judge; my own curiosities have included Dr Pepper can-shaped lip gloss, peacock feathers from my grandparent’s birds, and rocks i’ve picked up here and there.

Apartment therapy also observes that:
As an artist who held strong views about how his work should be presented, one wonders how Judd would have reacted to the new web site, which allows users to browse through all 576 shelves and zero in on clusters of books for a glimpse of Judd’s personal archival logic. One can even zoom in on the books themselves and get their title, date, author, and Dewey Decimal number.

Bibliophiles aren’t always minimalists, but both the library and the site reflect Judd’s disdain for gratuitous ornamentation. Stripped down to its most essential elements, the site presents Judd’s library not as a fetishistic representation of learnedness, but as a democratic tool for constructing real knowledge.

This takes examining an author’s personal library to a whole new level and may often interesting avenues heretofore unavailable for scholarly research.

The Donald Judd Foundation has more information about his life and work, and that tour of the library!

Image: Hester and Hardaway via Apartment Therapy
Anna Blanch is founder of Goannatree, and a PhD student in the Institute of Theology, Imagination, and the Arts at St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews, Scotland. She loves libraries.

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