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Donald Judd
Donald Judd, 15 untitled works in concrete, 1980-1984via Chinati Foundation

Who is the sculptor who ‘profoundly influenced’ Solange?

The singer has announced a new site-specific performance piece in a field where American sculptor Donald Judd’s installation ‘15 Untitled Works in Concrete’ stands

Solange is no stranger to the art world – she performed at the Guggenheim in May and has been popping up regularly in the art industry recently. Swiftly moving onto her next creative endeavour, the singer is preparing for a performance at this year’s Chinati Weekend, an event that continues the art museum’s tradition of bringing contemporary artists to Marfa, Texas.

Yesterday (August 21), Solange announced via social media that she will be performing a new site-specific performance art piece entitled Scales, in a field where American sculptor Donald Judd’s installation “15 Untitled Works in Concrete” stands. The singer divulged her love for the American artist in an Instagram post: “Donald Judd’s profound work has had a tremendous impact on the way in which I see the world”. The performance takes place October 8.

Solange has discussed Judd’s influence in the past. The sleeve design for her 2012 single “Losing You” was inspired by the artist’s work: “(I) actually went to Marfa, did an entire Donald Judd tour and saw these really amazing boxes, which were aluminum with the yellow, so that was sort of where (the cover of the single) came from,” she told The FADER at the time.

Likewise the styling for the costumes of her recent festival shows and museum tours also took inspiration from the artist’s “idea that we take on our surroundings as a part of the art itself,” which “really, really punctured me in the way that I look at performance art,” while Judd’s paintings and illustrations were used as design inspirations for her A Seat at the Table photo book.

Beginning his career as an expressionist painter in the 1950s, Judd moved on to experiment with woodcut and his work began to develop into increasingly abstract imagery. Discovering materials such as metals, plywood and concrete became crucial to his progression as an artist and supported his sculptural prowess. Judd’s art began to advance in scale and complexity, moving on to room-sized installations and even a five-story building.

Fascinated by the constructed object and the space created by it, Judd advanced on to create “15 Untitled Works in Concrete”, after visiting Baja, California for years with his family. Falling in love with the empty desert and a strong attachment to the land led to Judd buying a house in Marfa, Texas to escape the hectic capital of New York City. Here, he later bought land to build the art piece Solange grew to love.

Situated in the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, Judd’s minimalist sculpture (although he didn’t like to be refereed to as a follower of the minimalist movement) stands tall and stretches across a field, featuring box-shaped structures alongside each other in uniform.

Solange’s Scales is “a mix of compositions and original arrangements” from her 2016 album A Seat at the Table and has been performed only once before. It was debuted in front of a painting by Cy Twombly, a contemporary of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, at Houston’s Menil Collection in March this year. As the piece has already been married to art, it seems only natural that the second performances should follow suit.

But the location choice is no coincidence as Solange, a long-term fan of Donald Judd, familiarises herself with the installation work. Similarly, for both artists, this space was one of calm, comfort and recollection. For Judd it was to space away from the capital’s hustle and bustle and for Solange it represents notable moments of her life: “I have visited these works at the Chinati in Marfa various times, at landmark moments in my life and am completely and utterly honoured to deliver my performance piece, Scales, alongside these phenomenal installations,” she said in a statement.