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The art and design world descended on Qatar last weekend for the launch of the inaugural Design Doha biennial (until 5 August) which attracted the crème de la crème of global art professionals keen to see and experience the latest design trends in the Middle East. One of the most entertaining pre-biennial talks took place (23 February) at the National Museum of Qatar between Michael Govan, the director of Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Flavin Judd, the son of Donald Judd (could there be a better name for an artist’s offspring?). Both men were in town to chew the bone over the stellar blockbuster show Dan Flavin/Donald Judd which closed 24 February in the Al Riwaq space, bringing to the table their memories and thoughts about the two late titans of Minimalism.

Govan, the exhibition curator, gave an eloquent description of why the show mattered, pointing out that “their influence is so pervasive, it’s hard to pinpoint… [there is] something essential and sensuous at the same time [about their work]… [a] combination of clarity, directness.” His insights about Flavin the man were fascinating, especially his statement that going into the artist’s house “was the opposite of minimal” (i.e. he tended to be a bit of a hoarder). Flavin Judd meanwhile painted a picture of a vibrant childhood in 1970s Manhattan, highlighting that his parents’ friends and neighbours in SoHo read like a who’s who of art stars and key culture names. Who else, for instance, had the venerable composer Philip Glass as a plumber, quipped Flavin, illustrating the impeccable pedigree of Donald’s high-profile chums.

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