Writing for Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums

Marfa, Texas

Donald Judd, 15 untitled works in concrete, 2.5 x 2.5 x 5 meters, 25 centimeters thick (1980-1984) 
Dan Flavin, untitled (Marfa project), eight-foot-long fluorescent light fixtures (1996)

Light and Space
After feeling limited by the cramped spaces of studios, galleries, and New York City in general, Donald Judd picked-up and left the center of the art world for a remote town Texas called Marfa. Deliberate in his actions, he was looking for open space to work in and spaces that would allow his artwork to be better seen and understood. From 1980-1984, Judd created fifteen concrete works that were placed outside in the cattle-ranching landscape. Each work was 2.5 x 2.5 x 5 meters and was constructed of four 25-centimeter-thick slabs of concrete. Essentially, each work was a frame that one could see through when facing the open side. These facilitated a view of the landscape while also becoming a part of it: a way to focus on something specific in a wide-open environment. This proves to be a very dynamic work since the landscape and the works themselves change throughout the day with the amount sunlight and shadow.

After Judd moved down to Marfa, the art world of New York would occasionally trek out there to see what he was up to. Dan Flavin made a trip down to Texas to install some of his fluorescent light works in six buildings. Nearly every inch of this interior space was highlighted and yet controlled by the artificial light. The fixtures holding the colored bulbs were strategically placed in the space to allow the viewer to be drawn into the lit areas and could see beyond the works into other spaces of the building, but then prohibited them from proceeding. This manipulation of space and light allows is how the artist controls the experience of the work. More importantly though is how we interact with the work and the space we share with it.