Marfa may be a city with only a local population of around 2,000 (according to the 2010 Federal Census), but with dozens of art galleries and a film festival the small town certainly packs quite a punch in the Arts world. But Marfa’s iconoclast status as an art destination is due to Donald Judd’s works, and the fosterage of New York’s Dia Art Foundation to help establish the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas on the remains of an old military base. Here’s what they have to say about themselves:
The Chinati Foundation/La Fundación Chinati is a contemporary art museum based upon the ideas of its founder, Donald Judd. The specific intention of Chinati is to preserve and present to the public permanent large-scale installations by a limited number of artists. The emphasis is on works in which art and the surrounding landscape are inextricably linked. As Judd wrote in the foundation’s catalogue:
It takes a great deal of time and thought to install work carefully. This should not always be thrown away. Most art is fragile and some should be placed and never moved again. Somewhere a portion of contemporary art has to exist as an example of what the art and its context were meant to be. Somewhere, just as the platinum-iridium meter guarantees the tape measure, a strict measure must exist for the art of this time and place.
Originally conceived to exhibit the works of Doanld Judd, Dan Flavin and John Chamberlain the permanent art collection now also embodies works by John Wesley, David Rabinowitch, Richard Long, Ilya Kabakov, Carl Andre, and so many more.With work spreading the 340 acre complex, from inside installations to outside installations it can take quite a bit to see everything. If you plan to go check with their hours to find out what’s the best options in your timeframe, and you can sometimes also arrange special tours too. Where your walking shoes, pack sunscreen, a hat and water. We were on the fringe of the Chihuahuan Desert and it was brutally hot, even with sunglasses, a hat, and carrying some water, it was still quite sweltering.
Since I was on a time crunch I just decided to focus on Donald Judd’s Concrete Series, because that series was MADE for Chinati Foundation. This is one of the exhibits that is entirely free to the public.
Personally I have a love it or hate it relationship with most Modern Art, but I do tend to resonate strongly to installations that play with their environs, and that’s exactly what the concrete series does. It ‘frames’ the vistas around it, light and sound come to play, and also I imagine the weather at different times too. The structures even allow people to play with them, becoming part of the composition as well when they pose amid their towering planes.
Here’s some photos I took of Judd’s Concrete Series when I visited July 2017.