Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

Adrian Switzer on Donald Judd



This is entry #69 in our 100 Philosophers, 100 Artworks, 100 Words Series.

Philosopher: Adrian Switzer, Colby College and University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC)

Artwork: Donald Judd, 100 untitled works in mill aluminum (1982-86)

100 rectangular objects of identical exterior design and dimension (41 x 51 x 72 inches), enclosed on four sides, open on both ends. The interior of each object is uniquely designed with the addition of one or two 4-inch thick aluminum sheets, installed at different vertical and horizontal angles. The 100 aluminum objects are arranged in 3 rows of approximately 15 objects in two former artillery sheds (18,000 sq. ft. and 17,000 sq. ft) at Fort D.A. Russell: a decommissioned Air Force Base and German Prisoner of War site during WWII. The long sides of each artillery shed are walls of windows with cross-shaped spars; the roof of each artillery shed is curved corrugated iron.


Words: Traditionally, the aesthetic experience involves looking past the artwork as specific object – seeing it as something other than it is. I.e., painted oil on canvas pictures a different scene; carved marble recalls another form, etc. Familiar as this is, it is also strange: to attend to something else and otherwise while looking at something here and now. Judd’s objects are what they are: rectangular sheets of mill-finished aluminum riveted into 100 identically constructed but differently designed objects. In their obdurate, industrial materiality, Judd’s objects insist on their not being overlooked, and thus on their being seen as works of art.


  1. There’s an amazing account of visiting this exhibit in Marfa in Ben Lerner’s novel 10:04.

  2. Amazing, Adrian! You’re an impressive artist/person…Well done!

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