Soho like you’ve never seen it before

Soho is known for its trendy boutiques and weekends spent slaloming in the midst of (almost unbearable) stream of tourists. A coffee at The Mercer Kitchen, dinner at Blue Ribbon – Soho is the place to see and be seen. But there’s more to Soho than that! Here’s two spaces that will make you love Soho differently:

The Judd Foundation at 101 Spring Street. Donald Judd, a founding father of Minimalism, acquired this ramshackle-superb cast-iron building in the late 60s, at a time when the city of NY had planned to build an east/west Expressway through Broome Street. Real estate developers let the artists move in the Soho lofts, (naively) thinking they would be the easiest tenants to evict once the great work started. Donald Judd and his wife led the lobbying against the highway creation and won the case.
According to the artist’s posthumous wishes, and after twenty years of fundraising and renovations, his residence and studio eventually opened to the public in 2013. The living space and workshop are precisely as Judd left it and as he intended it to be seen. Minimalist. Difficult to walk through the 8,500 square feet and explore the five-story space without unconsciously (or not) assessing the price of sale or lease of such a loft. Those volumes will make any nearby Prada or Apple store salivate. Visiting 101 Spring Street transports you to the Soho of the 60s – with its industrial wasteland and community of artists. You will find Donald Judd’s works but also those of artist friends – neon lights by Dan Flavin, compressed cars by John Chamberlain, a ready-made by Marcel Duchamp, etc.

In the same spirit and only a few steps away on Wooster Street, is the “Earth Room” by Walter de Maria. An entire building floor covered with dirt. 3,600 square feet of floor space. 250 cubic yards or 280,000 lbs of earth. It is prohibited to set foot on this space, it is just for viewing from one vantage point. An empty room with dirt. This singular interior sculpture has been exhibited for over 30 years thanks to the support of the Dia Foundation. Pottery Barn, Abercrombie and others have enviously coveted the space, vying for a glitch in the lease but Dia is holding up!

In the time of the real estate profitability diktat and in the square foot battle, you take a guilty pleasure in discovering these naked spaces at the service of art, these large volumes in the heart of one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods. The Judd Foundation and the Earth Room may be the last holdouts of an earlier time in the mercantile kingdom of Soho.
Next time, between two shopping sessions, go check it out!


Judd Foundation
101 Spring street, Soho
Visits by appointment only, $25 admission


Earth Room by Walter De Maria
141 Wooster Street, Soho
Wednesday–Sunday, 12–6 pm
Free admission

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