Art in the desert

Marfa is a small town in the high Chihuahua Desert of West Texas above Big Bend on the Rio Grande. Originally a railhead and water stop on the line skirting the border with Mexico, Marfa is now host to the Chinati Foundation and several art galleries.

Donald Judd, renowned minimalist artist, moved to Marfa from New York in 1971, having been stationed there on army service. He bought two large hangers and the decommissioned Fort Russell, to house large-scale permanent installations of art works

Judd felt that transient exhibitions in museums and galleries did a disservice to artist and viewer alike. He sought to reverse that with what he saw as an anti-museum far away from the metropolis where people would have to make a pilgrimage to experience large art works and installations face to face in an intimate and meditative way.

Works are on permanent display by Judd, Dan Flavin, Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen, Roni Horn and others artists. Marfa’s other claims to fame are its ghostly ‘Marfa Lights’ and the Hotel Paisano where James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Rock Hudson stayed in 1956 while filming Giant nearby.