Portrait of Candy Hearts by Jud Nelson, 1984, carrara marble.

“Hey Jud, is the Charmin bigger?” Not missing a beat, Jud shoots back, “Charmin Ultra – now 10% larger!” Chuck Close laughs out loud. We all join in the laughter while wandering through Jud Nelson’s 1998 show at the Fischbach Gallery. Aside from Chuck Close’s joke, our reaction to Mr. Nelson’s work is complete and utter amazement.

Portrait of Toilet Paper, by Jud Nelson, carrara statuario marble

The Charmin is Mr. Nelson’s portrait of a roll of toilet paper, carved from carrara statuario marble. The sculpting is so masterful that no detail is missing – the texture of the paper, the rolls, the perforations all add up to a breathtakingly hyper-realist sculpture of the most basic of everyday objects. Roberta Smith of the NYTimes describes Jud’s work as “the Faberge of Post-Minimalism”.

Top: Portrait of Wonder Bread, travertine marble; bottom: Cereal Cup, carrara statuario marble and travertine; by Jud Nelson

Other marble hyper-realistic sculptures above: leather gloves seemingly more supple than any produced in Italy, a series of Pies, a series of Milk Bone Biscuits, – the list goes on.

Lifelike, the upcoming realism show at the Walker Art Center will feature Mr. Nelson’s Hefty 2-Ply sculpture carved from carrara statuario.

Walker curator Siri Engberg discusses Hefty 2-Ply in the St. Paul Pioneer Press “It’s a sculpture made in the late ’70s, and it’s completely carved from marble. It follows the techniques and traditions you might see on the drapery on a Bernini. But, of course, it’s the most ordinary object possible. And from a distance, it really does look like a Hefty 2-Ply garbage bag. As we get closer, we see the veining in the marble, the carefully carved folds, and suddenly it becomes something quite precious.”

A bronze cast of the Hefty 2-Ply sculpture, currently in a private collection. Environmental sculpture – whimsical and monumental all at once.

Mr. Nelson’s recent work pushes his concept of hyper-realism by enlarging the scale of small objects – giant Cheerios – large enough for a toddler to sit on or giant animal crackers that initially appear as abstract objects, and yet, no detail is missing.

Notably among many exhibitions and commissions, Jud’s work has exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the United States Capital, Washington, DC.

Are you interested in Jud Nelson’s sculpture?

Jud / Collage, 1982, by Chuck Close
Pulp paper collage on canvas
96 x 72″, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA