From the archive
In all cases, the meaning in Judd’s writing comes from the amalgam of individual sentences — like the layering of paint or stacking of forms — and for that reason I will quote from the review at some length.
The excerpt begins:
Until lately art has been one thing and everything else something else. These structures are art and so is everything made. The distinctions have to be made within this assumption. The forms of art and of non-art have always been connected; their occurrences shouldn’t be separated as they have been. More or less, the separation is due to collecting and connoisseurship, from which art history developed. It is better to consider art and non-art one thing and make the distinctions ones of degree. Engineering forms are more general and less particular than the forms of the best art. They aren’t highly general though, as some well-designed utensils are. Simple geometric forms with little detail are usually both aesthetic and general. The few good buildings, ‘real architecture,’ are more specific than most of the engineering projects. But most buildings are far inferior to engineering projects, which with their definitive use and the supposed objectivity of their solutions, have been allowed a freedom and advancement not accorded to buildings and architecture. Buildings only have to have space; they are easy to construct. Commercialism dominates the engineers and architects, and the best knowledge isn’t used. Several of the buildings in this show are only models: Louis Kahn’s City Tower and office building by Clive Entwhistle. They are apparently feasible, but they are inventive and probably won’t be built for some time. None of the plain beauty of well-made things has ever gotten into New York’s housing projects, and little has occurred in the office buildings, which are mostly either like consumer junk…or are absolutely barren…
Judd goes on to say:
As the anonymity of the profession indicates, the society has an odd attitude toward the best projects built by engineers. They are considered fine for what they are but neither something to live in nor to have an office in. A moderate-looking building with a little gold and white trim is fit for habitation. The only art that is involved is an idea of elegance, which is thoroughly puerile. Even fairly well-designed things like some cars and buildings are too elegant, though genuinely so — most Skidmore, Owings and Merrill buildings, for example. The engineering structures prove that this elegance isn’t desirable. Architects are prone to elegance and are not especially imaginative. Much of engineering is better architecture than most architecture.