Marfa, TX


On my way back from Mexico City, I stopped off in Texas for a quick road trip to Marfa.  “In 1971, minimalist artist Donald Judd moved to Marfa from New York City. After renting summer houses for a couple of years, he bought two large hangars and some smaller buildings and began to permanently install his art. While this started with his building in New York, the buildings in Marfa allowed him to install his works on a larger scale. In 1976, he bought the first of two ranches that would become his primary places of residence, continuing a long love affair with the desert landscape surrounding Marfa. Later,with assistance from the Dia Art Foundation in New York, Judd acquired decommissioned Fort D.A. Russell, and began transforming the fort’s buildings into art spaces in 1979. Judd’s vision was to house large collections of individual artists’ work on permanent display, as a sort of anti-museum. Judd believed the prevailing model of a museum, where art is shown for short periods of time, does not allow the viewer an understanding of the artist or their work as they intended.  Since Judd’s death in 1994, two foundations have worked to maintain his legacy: the Chinati Foundation and Judd Foundation.” (via Marfa, Texas wikipedia).

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We spent two days in Marfa and saw Judd’s residence and studio, and did the full day Chinati Foundation tour as well.  Photography wasn’t allowed in any of these places so I can’t show you what I saw but you’ll have to take my word for it that the whole place is phenomenal.  In addition to the art and design we saw, Judd’s library was amazing.  It contains 13k books on pretty much every topic you’d ever want.  You can see for yourself with this browser which allows you to roll your cursor over the shelves and view his books.  Check it out!


My friend and I stayed in a safari tent at El Cosmico, which also offers tepees, airstreams and a yurt!  While we did have electric blankets, our camping experience definitely added a level of adventure to our trip.


Our visit to Prada Marfa, a permanent art project modeled after a Prada store, was made all the more interesting by having arrived about fifteen minutes after this restoration began on the site’s signage and awnings.  It usually looks like this:


photo by James Evans


NPR has done a couple of really good short segments about Marfa which are well worth a listen, if you’d like to hear more about the city and its art scene (here, here and here).  You can also visit Donald Judd’s NYC residence and studio at 101 Spring Street if you’re in New York; I haven’t been but will certainly be making a visit the next time I’m there.

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