Judd and SoHo

Donald Judd moved to 101 Spring Street from his live-work studio on 19th Street and Park Avenue South in 1968, and was one of the first artists to move to SoHo. This derelict industrial neighborhood soon became a vibrant haven for artists, writers, musicians, and community activists, among others. Paula Cooper was the first gallery to move into the area when she opened a space on Wooster Street in 1968. Leo Castelli followed, purchasing a space at 420 West Broadway, which opened in 1971. Between 1970 and 1980, 112 Greene Street, a raw space provided by artist Jeff Lew, was used by 112 Workshop (the precursor to White Columns) for installations and performances by artists such as Gordon Matta-Clarke, Tricia Browne, Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson, Richard Serra, Phillip Glass and many more.

SoHo quickly became an artists community that fought for its preservation in the New York real estate battle. Judd was one of the co-founders of Artists Against the Expressway, a group that successfully lobbied against Robert Moses’ plan to link the East and West sides of Manhattan with the Broome Street Expressway. Judd also participated in efforts to change zoning laws in Lower Manhattan to allow the conversion of industrial spaces into live-work studios, through A.I. R (Artist-in-Residence) designation. Judd hosted dinner parties and social gatherings, and had a genuine curiosity for new ideas and debate about the intersection of art, culture, history and politics at a time of great tumult and change in the United States and the world. The ground floor of 101 Spring Street was used for occasional temporary exhibitions, community and activist meetings, and performances.

From 1959 to 1965, Judd wrote monthly art reviews for ArtNews and Arts International and published essays on art, architecture and design. In 1971, he submitted several candid political statements for a downtown newspaper, The Lower Manhattan Township. He criticized existing political structures as artificial and ineffective and promoted collectives of artists, trade workers and residents as strong activists for shaping the city's neighborhoods. This was part of a lifetime of Judd's speaking out on art, culture and politics.

Through Judd's travels abroad, trips to local antique shops and bazaars, and exchanges with fellow artists and dealers, he collected more then 1,000 works of art and design at 101 Spring Street Throughout the five floors of the building, Judd also installed works he purchased or commissioned from other artists.

Over the next 25 years, Judd renovated the building floor by floor. He kept many 19th century elements and made improvements to create spaces where art and living were in harmony. Ultimately, 101 Spring Street became a place where Judd explored his ideas on permanent installation and considered art in relation to architecture.

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