I’m back. Had the most wonderful holiday in New Mexico and West Texas. If you’re
thinking about heading out that way, I can highly recommend southern New Mexico,
especially the strip of desert from White
Sands National Monument, in the west, over to Carlsbad
Caverns National Park, in the east. It’s much less touristy than, and just
as beautiful as, the well-travelled strip between Santa Fe and Taos. The place
to stay is the Hurd
Ranch in San Patricio. Talk about value: for $140 a night, you get an entire
house on acres of land, complete with large sitting room, wood-burning fireplace
with lots of wood, kitchen, bedroom, porch, barbecue, amazing views, everything.
The scenery is lovely (and makes for a nice walk to the top of the hill, too),
and the whole atmosphere is utterly relaxing. There are bigger houses, too,
if you want to take a group.
From there we moved on to Marfa. I’ve always been more of a Carl Andre fan
than a Donald Judd fan, but the two big Judd pieces at Marfa are indisputably
two of the greatest artworks of the second half of the 20th Century. Photos
can’t begin to do them justice. The aluminium
boxes are the better known, and are absolutely stunning, but leave a lot
of time for the concrete
boxes as well. Walk slowly among and around them, go from end to end (I
think it’s about a mile in total), and you’ll see just how amazing site-specific
art can really be.
As for the controversy
surrounding the Judd Foundation, I certainly think the Christies
sale gives every impression of being rushed and ill-thought-through. But
the two big permanent pieces at Chinati are so much better than any
of Judd’s gallery pieces that I’m not as upset about it as I was before I went
to Marfa. The Judd Foundation needs cash; it does not need a lot of gallery
pieces lying around in storage. Yes, more of an effort should certainly have
been made to place those pieces in museums rather than auctioning them off to
the highest bidder. But I do have some hope that, armed with a $20 million endowment,
the Judd Foundation will be able to memorialise and preserve the legacy of this
great artist, both in Marfa and New York.