Donald Judd Cama del Taller Chihuahuense

El Taller Chihuahuense, Donald Judd’s metal fabrication shop in Marfa, as published in Donald Judd Raume/Spaces, 1994, from the Museum Wiesbaden, all photos: Todd Eberle

After several years of executing works in Cor-Ten steel, Donald Judd opened a welding and fabrication shop in 1988 in the disused Ice Plant building on the northeast side of downtown Marfa. He called it El Taller Chihuahuense (The Chihuahuan Workshop), and he hired local welders, including Raul Hernandez and Lee Donaldson to make his works.

Cobb Gatehouse with Judd steel bed and table by, as published in Donald Judd Raume/Spaces

The workers of El Taller also fabricated beds and slate-topped tables of square tubular steel, which Judd designed in 1991 and 1992.

Photos have been published of tubular steel Judd beds installed in the Architecture Office—formerly a bank—and the gatehouse of the Cobb House & Whyte Building, a small compound across from the John Chamberlain Building, which Judd acquired in 1989, and renovated to exhibit his early paintings. The Cobb & Whyte compound is still owned and operated by the Judd Foundation, but other houses Judd acquired, renovated and furnished in and around Marfa, were sold after the artist’s death in 1994. One, Porter House, was purchased from the estate by Flavin Judd; he later sold it.

Donald Judd steel bed, 1991, in the second floor of the Architecture Office, as published in Donald Judd Raume/Spaces, 1994 but also Fig. 91 in Judd Furniture, 1995

Of all Judd’s furniture designs, these tubular steel pieces have been available the least, except for Judd’s floating single plane bed at Spring Street, which hasn’t been available ever. This is all by way of explanation for the appearance of a steel Judd bed for sale today at Sotheby’s.

Donald Judd, Bed #91, 1991/1995, painted steel, 10 by 55 by 76 in., Lot 992, sold at Sotheby’s today, for $8,890, presumably not photographed by Todd Eberle

It is described as Bed #91, reflecting a moment when the furniture could be ordered by the image numbers in the 1995 Judd Furniture retrospective catalogue from the Boijmans van Bingen. It is being sold by the McNay Museum of Art in San Antonio, which obtained it as part of a bequest by John Parker, Jr., an unusually committed collector who left the museum his hoard of Minimalism, including his Judd furniture. They kept the more iconic pieces, but frankly, even it if were signed, this bed would tax the storytelling of most museums.

more like Donald Judd Bed 404, amirite? image:

The chronology and production of this bed, as reported, is unusual. Judd furniture has usually been made to order, but this one was “Executed in 1995,” after the artist’s death. Judd used separate furniture fabricators for each material: hardwood, plywood, or sheet metal. The only credits I’ve seen for the tubular steel pieces are the El Taller folks. Perhaps this was made toward the end of El Taller’s operations, or just dated wrong. It was acquired from the “Donald Judd Estate, Marfa” in 2007. So it was made before what we now know as the Judd Foundation, but sold outside the Foundation channels. It had a history, a use, outside of its existence as a product. Perhaps it was in one of the houses, and stuck around after its house was sold off.

The double bed was being sold online from New York, but pickup is in San Antonio. I thought it was interesting to buy an unusual Judd bed in a size I can’t use for $200, and then road trip it home. I did not think it was interesting to pay $9,000 for it, but I’m excited, on behalf of the McNay Museum at least, that someone did.

4 Mar 2024, Lot 992: Donald Judd, Bed #91, est. $7-10,000, sold for $8,890 [sothebys]