Ballroom Marfa is a contemporary museum with a constantly rotating exhibition program: whenever you go, you’ll experience a different show from a different working artist, such as Roberto Carlos Lange and Kristi Sword’s “Kite Symphony,” which is running at the venue until May. They also commission site-specific works, such as stone circle (2018) by Haroon Mirza, inspired by prehistoric monuments like Stonehenge, and helped bring “Prada Marfa” and “Giant” to life—but more on those later.
There is a definitive must-visit when in Marfa, and that is the Chinati Foundation, the minimalist art museum founded by Donald Judd that catapulted this tiny Texas town into the national spotlight. Wander through Donald Judd’s 100 untitled works made in mill aluminum, housed in old military camp buildings, or take in the neon lights of Dan Flavin’s site-specific installations. For art novices, book a guided tour—and most importantly, stay awhile.
Although much of Judd’s work resides at the Chinati Foundation, his in-town residence allows you to go one step further in understanding the artist. View everything from his extensive collection of books—he famously read for hours each day—to his studio, or even his kitchen. Each room, perfectly preserved from the last time he visited in the 1990s, feels like Judd could walk in at any moment.
“Prada Marfa” by Elmgreen & Dragset
The Instagram reputation of “Prada Marfa” likely precedes it. (That’ll happen when Beyoncé uses you as a backdrop for one of her Instagram snaps.) Yet the site-specific art installation by Elmgreen & Dragset, supported by the Art Production Fund and Ballroom Marfa, is still very much worth a visit. It’s absurdist in nature: the “store” is on remote ranch land, the door doesn’t open, and the objects of desire (shoes and handbags from a 2005 Prada collection) are frozen inside forever, unable to be bought. Is it a commentary, monument, or a critique of capitalism? Well, that’s up to you.
“Giant” by John Cerney
In 1956, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean descended on Marfa to film the epic western Giant about a Texas ranch family during the rise of big oil. Nearly 60 years later, artist John Cerney erected massive plywood cut-outs of the Old Hollywood stars and plopped them on the side of Highway 90 near where the historically significant movie was filmed.
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