This Desert Town is Known for Art!? 🌵🎨 - Marfa, Texas.

Today: How Marfa became a hub of creativity and Why there's a Prada store in the desert!

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Welcome to Marfa, Texas- one of the most unique towns in America! Watch our preview below! ⬇️

Founded in the early 1880s, Marfa was merely a water stop for the railroads. And until 1971, if someone told you they were traveling to Marfa, Texas, they’d probably have only one word: Why? 

Today, however, Marfa has exploded into a hub of art creation and art preservation. But how does a town of 1,800 in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert become a capital for art?

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It began in 1971 when a New York artist named Donald Judd ran out of space in his studio. He was working on creating a space for permanent artwork, but even in 1971, it proved too expensive to buy more and more space, so he had to look elsewhere.

Judd landed in Marfa, Texas, drawn to the opposite atmosphere to New York. Before pulling the trigger, he rented summer homes there, buying up two hangars where he would eventually begin his own art exhibition full of his minimalist-style works. In New York, Judd’s works were confined to his space, but with the practically unlimited space of rural Texas, Judd’s work followed suit.

The sizes of his work got larger and larger, so Judd eventually added two ranches to his arsenal of art spaces that he would end up filling with not only his own artwork but also the artwork of other aspiring artists.

Marfa gained a significant amount of notoriety following the creation of a work you may have seen called “Prada Marfa.” Many mistake images of the work for a genuine Prada store and are surprised by its desolate location, but that is exactly the feeling that the work was meant to convey.

The Prada Marfa has attracted the eyes of many curious art lovers, but Marfa has so much more to see than just the mock store, and much of it is hidden inside of inconspicuous architecture where you’d never expect…

Best Art Exhibits in Marfa

1. Chinati Foundation

  • Founded by minimalist artist Donald Judd, the Chinati Foundation is Marfa's premier art destination. It features large-scale installations by Judd and other contemporary artists, including Dan Flavin, John Chamberlain, and Robert Irwin.

  • The museum is set on a former army base, with expansive grounds and industrial buildings that house the installations.

  • The blend of industrial and natural elements provides a stark yet harmonious setting for modern art. One second, you feel like you’re at Stonehenge; the next, you’re in an art gallery in Manhattan.

  • Must-See: Donald Judd's concrete and aluminum works and Dan Flavin's fluorescent light installations.

2. Judd Foundation

  • Preserves Donald Judd's living and working spaces in Marfa, including his private residences and studios. The foundation offers guided tours of these spaces, providing insight into Judd's artistic process and philosophy.

  • The atmosphere is Intimate and personal, giving visitors a glimpse into the life and mind of one of minimalism's most influential figures.

  • It’s a reflective and educational space perfect for those deeply interested in Judd's work and minimalist art.

  • Must-See: Judd's home and studios, including his furniture designs and personal art collection.

3. Ballroom Marfa

  • A non-profit contemporary art space that hosts exhibitions, performances, and films. It aims to connect local culture with global contemporary art.

  • It is housed in a historic ballroom building and combines Marfa's rustic charm with its art culture.

  • Ballroom Marfa is more along the lines of what you would expect from a traditional art gallery and might be a good warm-up for the Chinati Foundation.

4. Marfa Contemporary

  • Part of Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, Marfa Contemporary focuses on innovative contemporary art exhibitions and educational programs.

  • It is a modern gallery space that emphasizes interaction between the artists and the community, fostering an environment of creativity and learning.

  • They feature rotating exhibitions from both emerging and established contemporary artists.

5. Ayn Foundation

  • Hosts long-term installations by internationally acclaimed artists. The Ayn Foundation showcases works by Maria Zerres and other notable figures.

  • The installations are housed in repurposed buildings, blending Marfa’s historic architecture with contemporary art.

  • Quiet and contemplative, probably better suited for art lovers.

  • Must-See: Maria Zerres’ paintings, along with other long-term installations.

  • More Info: Typically, the Ayn Foundation does not have a dedicated website, so visitors should check local listings or the Marfa visitor's guide for current exhibitions.

6. Wrong Marfa

  • An independent art gallery that showcases a diverse range of contemporary art, often with a focus on local and emerging artists.

  • Wrong Marfa often features eclectic and unconventional art pieces so there is naturally a more edgy and vibrant vibe, appealing to those looking for something unique and avant-garde.

  • Wrong Marfa is not only an art gallery. They double as an art shop as well! So if you see something that speaks to you, you may just be able to buy it!

7. Prada Marfa

  • Although technically located about 1.4 miles northwest of Valentine, Texas, Prada Marfa is often associated with Marfa due to its proximity and cultural significance. It's a permanent sculptural installation by artists Elmgreen and Dragset, designed to resemble a Prada boutique.

  • Situated in the middle of the desert, the installation juxtaposes luxury fashion with the stark, desolate landscape, creating a thought-provoking contrast.

  • While in Marfa, you must check out the iconic storefront, which contains actual Prada merchandise from the 2005 collection.

See you in Marfa!

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