Marfa, Texas | Modern Art Mecca

Marfa’s mantra could be reduce, creative reuse and repurpose.  There is a minimal amount of new construction, which is especially notable given the influx of arts and tourism related projects. This adds tremendously to the town’s allure (see Marvelous Marfa|Texas ) in addition to being more responsive and responsible from a development and environmental standpoint.Chinati Foundation Panorama-2The main Chinati Foundation campus is located on the 340 acre grounds of the former Fort D. A. Russell and is the best place to start any art-focused visit to Marfa.  Donald Judd Chinati Sunrise copyEarly risers will get the benefit of sunrise illuminating the “15 Untitled Works in Concrete,” Donald Judd’s first installation at Chinati.  Each piece is 2.5 x 2.5 x 5 meters and all were constructed on site between 1980-1984. They are visible from the nearby roads and it is easy to imagine the locals’ reaction when they appeared.Judd Sheds_Two former artillery sheds were refitted to house “100 Untitled Works in Milled Aluminum.”Chinati_Judd Sheds

Donald Judd Metal Box PortraitEach of the works is distinct from the others. The reflections of and interplay with the landscape and sky increase their impact.

Six former barracks were converted to display a large-scale work by Dan Flavin: untitled, (Marfa Project) 1996. It is an amazing exploration of color and light and I could have spent hours going back and forth between the buildings.Flavin through a window_ChinatiEven though the angle is askew, I love the desert’s reflection in one window and the view of the Flavin’s through the adjacent one.The original concept of the foundation was to exhibit works by Donald Judd, John Chamberlin and Dan Flavin. Over time, additional artists have been added to the collection including Carl Andre, Roni Horn, Richard Long and John Wesley.Carl Andre Chinati Thirteener copy.jpgLocated in the courtyard of Chinati’s temporary gallery,  Carl Andre’s “Chinati Thirteener” is the newest addition to the permanent collection. Chinati Landscape with TreeI would be remiss if I didn’t mention the landscapes and their juxtapositions that are a wonder to behold, as well.Robert Irwin Dawn to DuskAdjacent to Chinati’s main campus, Robert Irwin’s monumental work  situated on the former hospital grounds should be visited at least twice to appreciate its genius.

Robert Irwin Dawn to Dusk Interior

While its official title is untitled (dawn to dusk), double vision would be an apt one, too.  There are two sides to the building and the effects vary considerably during the day.Dawn to Dusk VermeerIrwin strategically positioned the windows to frame Dutch-landscape style vistas.Marfa Ice PlantBack in central Marfa, the former Ice Plant currently houses two freestanding horizontal pieces untitled (U Channel,1980, and V Channel, 1982). These works will be on display until August, 2017.U Shaped Judd Ice HouseWhile the former home of Marfa Wool and Mohair houses 22 works by John Chamberlain.Mutliple ChamberlainsChamberlain with LightThe Judd Foundation has several installations in Marfa that should not be missed, beginning with Judd’s La Mansana de Chinati/The Block, his home and studio space. Guided tours are available and must be reserved in advance.  La Mansana de Chinati copyThe compound includes two former airplane hangers that house art works, as well as the house above with furniture that Judd designed.Donald Judd The BlockThere are other buildings in downtown Marfa which can be seen on guided visits, including the Art Studio, Architecture Studio, Cobb House and Whyte Building. I recommend scheduling in advance and allowing time to see everything.Marfa National Bank Building First FloorJudd purchased the former Marfa National Bank building (c1925) in November 1989. Works on display include early paintings and drawings by Judd, as well as pieces by Alvar Aalto, Mies van der Rohe, and Josef Albers among others.  Marfa National Bank Building Second StoryIf I had to choose a favorite place, this building would be it. However, Marfa  inspires visitors to return many times. I am already planning my next trip there.  In addition to revisiting everything, I feel as though I barely scratched the surface. I can’t wait to return.








8 thoughts on “Marfa, Texas | Modern Art Mecca

  1. The more I see of Marfa, the more I love it! These disused military and industrial buildings make such great spaces for large installations like these, and exploring them must have been such a treat. I’m not surprised you’re planning a return trip… I’m trying to figure out how I’d get there ​myself!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s