Bench (Judd’s and mine)

2014-01-25 14.29.18I’ve spent years thinking about this piece of Donald Judd furniture “Bench” and how it simultaneously makes reference to the surface of the floor, a seating surface and a table surface .  It makes me think about how all of these surfaces are ultimately totally interchangeable, yet we create huge distinctions between them. (for instance in polite society one would never think of sitting on a table or eating off of the floor)  In tribute to Judd’s “Bench” I’ve been working on my own renditions of the piece in my living room at A-Z West.

IMG_9291I made my  bench 17.5″ high, the same height as Judd’s, but it is bigger so four people can comfortably have a conversation on it.  At this scale it is a slightly odd height, but in a good way.  (It looks a bit more like a table than a seating surface) People are generally a little confused about how to use it, but it works really well once they figure out that they are can  sit on it.  The one thing that I’m still having trouble with is figuring out the right covering for it.  Originally I designed a really beautiful tufted alpaca rug – but as soon as it entered the house the cats started to sharpen their claws on it, making it clear that a custom made alpaca rug was going to have a limited lifespan in a  household with six animals and a nine year old kid.

IMG_9023Judd’s bench is covered by a Persian carpet.   I am personally drawn to the geometry of Turkish kilims more then the the all over patterning  of Persian carpets – so a kilim was the next surface that I tried.  The kilim looks great in this photograph, but it is rough to the touch, and not so soft to sit on.  Also it bleeds when it gets wet, and isn’t  a good surface to spill food or drinks on.  (another given in this household)  Then I tried  two cowhides which I like more because they are soft and super durable (even red wine wipes off of the white cowhide) – but the overlapping hides feel a bit too amorphous for the crisp formal shape of the bench.  More experiments are now in the works… which I’ll document as they play themselves out.

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3 Comments on “Bench (Judd’s and mine)”

  1. Hi Andrea,
    I currently assist with the guided tours at Judd Foundation at 101 Sprint St in New York and was excited to see this post about your response to Judd’s Benches. Over here we speculate on how Judd’s benches were used and I am tempted to sit down to try them out, which is of course out of the question. I also like your comment about how we like to distinguish between objects’ functions which assign very specific roles to surfaces that could be used in various ways.
    I imagine may be a softer rug, that would expose the edges of the bench, would work well to put on top.

    • andrea zittel says:

      Hi Maria, Thanks so much for writing in – if you know of any written info or references to Judd’s Benches I would love to know about it.
      Take care, Andrea

  2. Ruth Pilston says:

    Hi Andrea,
    I just visited your show at Sadie Coles HQ and was particularly drawn to the benches and the way you make work to be used and lived with. I’m a first year sculpture student in London and I’ve recently been thinking about our interaction with the art object in this way. I’m currently reading Lay of my Land and would love to ask you a few questions about it and your practice in general, if you have the time. I’ll leave my email in the box just in case!
    Take care, Ruth


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