Marfa, Texas: Perfecting Art in Public Spaces

The small desert city of Marfa, located in west Texas, holds a reputation to excel on installation art in public spaces. With a population of only 1,772 residents, Marfa establishes an internationally known cultural and artistic playground for installation art to thrive on vast pictorial spaces.

Minimalist artist Donald Judd arrived to the dry and solitary city of Marfa around the 1070’s to escape the superficiality of the art world surrounding New York City. Judd’s new muse, Marfa, quickly became filled with art installations. The Dia Art Foundation aided Judd to fill the Army base with refreshing new perspectives. Nowadays, the Chinati Foundation is responsible for the masterpiece that has become of Marfa.


Prada, Marfa

This piece is perhaps, the most talked about installation that Marfa holds. The faux boutique displays luxury bags and high-fashion shoes in the middle of, literally, nowhere. The juxtaposition of the empty Texas landscape and a small Prada store highlight a new commentary on how capitalism reaches every corner of the world, even in an empty desert. This piece was created by artist duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragster in 2005.

15 Untitled Works in Concrete

Judd’s most impressive works range from 1980 to 1984. These huge concrete box pieces run along the border of Chinati’s property. These have the same measurement and are made entirely of concrete slabs that are 25 centimeters thick.


Untitled (Marfa Project)

Initiated around 1980, the Chinati Foundation built large-scale works in colored fluorescent lights by artist Dan Flavin. These consist of two parallel tilted corridors that connect arms for each U-shaped building. The first two buildings use pink and green while the next two use yellow and blue, and the last one creates a combination of all four. It is not only a magnificent experience to witness this light installation in person, but audiences get the sense of togetherness and loneliness at the same time. The installation was inaugurated back in 2000 at the museum’s annual Open House.

Things That Happen Again: For a Here and a There

In collaboration with Roni Horn, Judd and the Chinati Foundation finished in 1991 a work in solid copper. Two identical truncated enormous cones of 35 inches long each lie on the ground. Each piece is hand-lathed to duplicate mechanical identity. The entire suite also includes For Two Rooms, For a This and a That, and For Things That are Near.

These various installations only represent the beginning of a wave of artists wanting to be part of Judd’s legacy. Galleries, marvelous neo-hipster bars, and weird introverts come to Marfa to join forces and escape the real world for a more realistic approach to public space.