Now, Donald Judd. What Did You Do in Marfa?
All in all, I admire artists who pulled off bold moves transitioning from a big city to a small town with their artistic ambitions, like Donald Judd. The oddest thing in Marfa was Donald Judd’s large-scale outdoor sculptures, the concrete cubes in the middle of nowhere. To be fair, it was in the midst of grassland. The extensive raw desert was his canvas. One would have to walk about 3 kilometers to get closer to this industrial mass. The truth is once you stand before his immense work, it is impossible to take your eyes off it. I instantly inspected every corner of the piece and turned my eyes onto the bizarre surroundings. Like I said, there was nothing but withered grass and nature. Despite its eccentric harmony, I would soon find it perfectly fit there. Some people use the word ‘whimsical’ to describe its out-of-place-setting, but to my sense, it was close to ‘serene’ or ‘meditative’.
To accomplish his ambition, Judd was destined to move to Marfa. As grand as his vision, he meticulously planned this art project and achieved the coherence of architecture, art, and nature. 40 years later, here we are.
According to Judd's daughter, Rainer Judd, the president of the Judd Foundation’s board, Donald Judd disliked to be categorized under Minimalism and she shared one story:
“I would say, ‘Where are the trees? There aren’t any trees here,'” Judd remembers. “The reason I mention trees is he would say, ‘If you look out here, you can actually see the shape of the land, where if it’s covered with trees you can’t see it.’ And I think about the way he would talk about his work in defense, when people would call it minimalist and he didn’t like that description. Just in the way that the desert is extremely rich and beautiful and it doesn’t have a lot of trees, I think he was interested in creating extremely rich work that didn’t have a lot of trees,”
When I think of desert, the image of "paused in time" comes to mind, which is probably why I keep thinking modern artwork beneath the desert sky is odd and eccentric. However, the intriguing irony left an unforgettable, vivid memory in my heart. It was like a pipe dream.