In the 1970’s Donald Judd, the artist, bought property, including the former Fort DA Russell, in Marfa, Texas. He needed space — lots of space — for his large artwork, and the old fort answered his need. The Chinati Foundation was founded by Judd and now displays his work and those of other artists at the fort.
We took the self-guided tour of Judd’s work: 15 concrete boxes placed just so, gracing a large desert field, and 100 mill aluminum works in two of the artillery sheds at old Fort Russell.
The concrete works are perfectly suited to the great expanse of desert. Three or more concrete boxes make up each of the 15 units. The concrete boxes measure all the same outer dimension of 2.5 X 2.5 X 5 meters and 25 cm thick. Each group of boxes sits well apart from the others and works on its own. Each group of three or so boxes creates an interesting space to explore, and each unit is different, even though the boxes are the same or similar.
Also, each of the 15 works has a relationship to the other works nearby, and the various space combinations created by each group and by the entire group invite the viewer to walk through the exhibit (but not on or in the boxes!).
Combine that with the sky, clouds, shadows from the afternoon sun, and the desert site with trees in the background and what seems a fairly simple design takes on additional levels of complexity.
We walked up to the former artillery sheds to view 100 mill aluminum works. The buildings themselves are quite beautiful and provide the perfect setting for these simple boxes. Each box is 41” x 52” X 72” and is perfectly spaced out in a grid within the sheds. The boxes didn’t seem to us to be related in any special way to the boxes nearby. Each had different interior configurations, and we were fascinated by how many ways the same box can be differently configured and by the different play of light that resulted. No photography is allowed inside the sheds, and that prohibition disappointed us.
We were pretty tired as we walked home for a rest before the grand event of the evening. …to be continued