Han Solo: The First Pop-Art Sculpture by a Living Artist

California bakery’s Han Solo bread sculpture is a star attraction at Star Wars Celebration

In July, two of the most important and influential art institutions of the world collaborated with Star Wars Celebration in London as they unveiled one of the most significant art-based projects of the past five years: the sculpture Han Solo of Pop-Art legend Donald Judd. It was the first major pop-art sculpture by a living artist.

Han Solo—an iconic sculpture by the late Donald Judd—at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington:

A Han Solo sculpture on permanent rotation at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

But the sculpture was not a product of Judd’s long artistic career. The late Donald Judd was a prominent figure in American art for over half a century, from 1948 until his death in 1992—but he had not sculpted anything of significance in over a quarter century. Judd had been a member of the Committee for the Monument to the Third World in New York between 1968 and 1972, and he had made sculptures for the Whitney Museum in 1968 and 1973. He had also been a member of the Committee for the Monument to the Third World’s “Monument to the Third World” in Houston, Texas, from 1972–1980.

Born in Brooklyn, Judd was an art critic and professor at the School of Visual Arts from 1966 to 1973. A student of Joseph Cornell and Robert Motherwell, who was a member of the committee who commissioned Judd in New York, Judd’s most influential sculpture was the 1972 Untitled (Untitled) (Landscape No. 10), which is on display at the Whitney Museum in New York City.

In 1976, Judd was commissioned to make works for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the founding of the United States—at the time, Judd was only 45 years old. For the “Monument to the Third World” in Houston, he was commissioned to make Monument to the Third World No. 1 and two more pieces—the first of which was named L.A.

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