A Surprising Terra Cotta Installation By Richard Long

British artist Richard Long made a name for himself in the 1970s, primarily as part of the Land Art movement, but also for his unconventional uses of traditional mediums. This caught the attention of Donald Judd, who became a longtime admirer, writing about Long’s work throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and acquired Long’s Sea Lava Circles for The Chinati Foundation in Marfa. To honor this kinship, The Judd Foundation has mounted Long’s first exhibition at Judd’s former residence at 101 Spring Street. Two large-scale terracotta works, made especially for the space, will be on display on the ground level until December 17.

When Donald Judd lived in the five story historic cast-iron building, he frequently exhibited fellow artists’ works on the ground floor, which could be seen from the street through the expansive wall of windows along Mercer Street. The Judd Foundation, curated by Judd’s son Flavin, has continued this tradition, showing a rotating roster of artists who had touched Judd’s life either personally, or through their art works.

Aside from being a favorite of Judd, Richard Long is also a critic favorite, having been shortlisted for the Turner Prize four times before receiving it in 1989. For 101 Spring, Long used terra cotta slip to make two messy, site-specific works, a recontextualization of the medium that Judd would surely have approved of.  When entering the Mercer Street entrance, guests are faced with a swirling terra cotta mandala, which radiates to nearly reach the floor and ceiling. The earthen spiral is made up of hundreds of Long’s handprints, meticulously splayed to form a tight coil. Long’s other piece spans the sixty foot wall, which faces a wooden desk placed originally by Judd himself. Unlike the mandala, this piece captures the gestural movement of the artist, with deliberately messy markings, splatters and drips. The earthy rosy hue reaches the tin ceiling, and cascades in streaks to the floor in an energetic mural.

Judd’s words on Long, along with other artists and theories, will also be published in a new book Donald Judd Writings, which will be released in November. The beautiful terra cotta works can be experienced from the street, or up close during one of the informative docent-led tours of all five floors of the Judd Foundation – by appointment only.

Words by Lori Zimmer