101 Spring Street Restored

Donald Judd with students, 1974. Photograph: Barbara Quinn/Courtesy Judd Foundation Archives.

There’s a shovel attached to the wall on the fifth floor of 101 Spring Street. “Why didn’t they keep that downstairs?” asked a recent visitor.

“It’s a Duchamp,” the guide replied.

It’s like that on every floor of the artist Donald Judd’s former home and studio. There’s a Stuart Davis in the baby’s room and a Duchamp bottle rack up in the sleeping loft. A 1967 Frank Stella protractor series painting has pride of place on the fourth floor, used for entertaining, but a drawing by Stella hangs against an (attractively) decaying wall in the stairwell, at home with the African masks. Judd surrounded himself with design that suited his aesthetic as well as his art. The high chair is Thonet. Zigzag chairs by Gerrit Rietveld pulled up to his own table. Czech glassware tucked into the clever, deep well of another table. The first thing Judd saw every morning: a 1969 Dan Flavin neon sculpture, chasséing the length of the room, tubes of red and blue light framing his western view.

The exterior of 101 Spring Street, 1972. Photograph: Paul Katz/Courtesy Judd Foundation Archives.

Museum-quality art, museum-quality design, and the detritus of domestic life occupy all five floors of the former garment factory, now the only single-occupancy building in all of SoHo. After a three-year, twenty-three-million-dollar restoration process led by the New York-based Architecture Research Office, the building will open for guided tours in June, offering an opportunity to see Judd’s work as he intended it to be seen, and to dwell, for an hour or so, in an individual vision of life as a work of art.