Tom Judd was born in Lawrenceville, New Jersey in 1952, but grew up from the age of two with two sisters and a brother in Salt Lake City, Utah. His father Thomas Grant Judd, a Salt Lake native, was a grandchild of the famous Mormon president Heber J. Grant, although Judd’s family were not active church members. Judd’s mother, Virginia Rapp Leonard was originally from Indiana.
Judd attended the University of Utah from 1970 to 1972 when he departed on a six-month leave of absence to travel in Europe. He returned in 1973 to attend the Philadelphia College of Art where he studied with Rafael Ferrer, Bob Kulicke, and Larry Day, graduating with a BFA in painting in 1975.
Judd first exhibited his art work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1979, where at 25 he was included in a survey show entitled “Contemporary Drawing: Philadelphia” curated by Ann Percy and Frank Goodyear. The museum purchased a work from that exhibit for their permanent collection.
Judd went on to exhibit his work in distinguished commercial galleries beginning with his first solo exhibit at Eric Makler Gallery in Philadelphia in 1980. Judd was soon recognized in New York City, including Monique Knowlton and Coe Kerr Gallery. In 1984 he was given a solo exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and had work purchased for their permanent collection. In 1990, Judd had a ten-year retrospect at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. The show also traveled to the Salt Lake Art Center the following year. In 2009, Judd joined forces with curator and gallery owner Allen Sheppard to produce “Evidence of a Collected Past”. This exhibition was staged at the Globe Dye Works – an alternative art space in Philadelphia – and consisted of a 20 year retrospective of Judd’s works.