Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Marfa and Chinati


101 Spring Street, NYC, NY

Last week we discussed the artists Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, and the events that took place at Marfa, and the Chinati Foundation. While talking about Judd we covered his early career in New York, his purchase and renovation of 101 Spring Street, and his move to the west. There was a heavy focus on how this move changed him and his work. His views on how art is displayed was discussed in detail.

We were particularly interested in his ideas on how art is informed by the place it is displayed and how art influences its surroundings. This has been one of the weeks that we have really felt a connection to our readings. Talking about how work is displayed has been a big part of our own art work lately and we enjoyed seeing where some of the alternatives to galleries and pedestals came from. A good portion of Judd’s work is very site specific and he did not life making work for galleries. He believed putting his art in a gallery took something very important away from it, the context. Judd strove to make an experience for his viewers.


101 Spring Street, NYC, NY

Dan Flavin was very similar to Judd in many of his ideas about art. Most of our discussion focussed on his work with light. We talked about how his work was, by nature, site specific as it features new planes made from light and shadow. The work automatically changed when it was moved to a new location. Both Judd and Flavin were involved in Marfa.

In a corner of western Texas, a small town of just under 2,000 people called Marfa sits. This was the site that Donald Judd chose for his public art project, which was to be larger than any museum or public art exhibit before. It was to be composed of over one hundred large-scale sculptures and several buildings over 350 acres. This enormous project was once funded by the Dia Art Foundation, although over time Judd’s demands became too much for the foundation and its funders, Heiner Friedrich and his wife Philippa de Menil Pelizzi Friedrich. Despite Judd’s objections, the Marfa Project became decentralized from the Dia Art Foundation, along with several other projects. The Chinati Foundation was established to carry on Judd’s ideas and ideals in installation, architecture, and connection to landscape.


Donald Judd, Freestanding works in concrete, Chinati Foundation, 1980-1984

We further discussed the artists and type of art that were prioritized by the Dia Art Foundation, and if we felt if it was an elitist organization/motive. We talked about the “defining movement” in the American nation, in reference to a quote Nicole pulled from the article. “The Art Museum of the Pecos…is what St. Peter’s was to the High Renaissance: a marriage of fully matured artistic vision with financial and cultural power, marking both the height of an empire and the beginning of its decline.”

Other topics we focused on were Judd’s disgust in displaying his work in museums, that his work and others “is often exhibited badly and always for short periods.” This was interesting to get the opinions of the art historians we have in class; that Judd should have been more particular and have initiative to express the needs of his artwork to curators and galleries. This idea proved interesting, especially vs. the ideas of the artists, especially those of the 3-D artists in class. Was Judd asking too much of curators, or was his work truly poorly displayed?


Richard Phillips, Playboy Marfa, 2013

To close the discussion, we talked about the works and exhibitions that have since been added to Marfa, such as Prada Marfa and Playboy Marfa. We talked about how these pieces, or in the Playboy Marfa, advertisements, have affected the surrounding areas and Marfa. These artworks differ greatly from much of the art that is presented at Marfa, and we were interested in the ideas behind them and how they currently appear. We went through more online articles, listened to a firsthand account of Marfa, and explored the Chinati Foundation website.

Lexi Musselman & Tracy Jarrett

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