Great art is something that is often associated with a large, metropolitan city. The Louvre in Paris. The MET in New York City. The Royal Museums of Fine Art in Brussels. All absolutely amazing museums, no doubt. However, Marfa, TX rivals these museums in the quality of art that is has to offer. Quantity? Perhaps not. There is only so much that this pint-sized town can fit within its city limits, but they are proving that quality over quantity is the way to go.
I was fortunate enough to make a few friends during my stay in Marfa (shout out to the folks at the Marfa Line and The Sentinel). They helped me navigate the local art scene. It is easy enough to simply Google some of the art museums in the area, but you may need a road map for some of the art installations that are scattered throughout the outskirts of town. Let me return the favor an offer a bit of guidance for your future trip.
The vintage Stardust Motel sign sparkles at night (well, at least it used to) and lights up an area where a nothing stands. It is literally an empty desert field. Rumor has it that a new development may be popping up soon. If you are driving north on Highway 90 (towards Valentine), the sign will be about 20 minutes out of Marfa on the left.
Continue driving north on Hwy 90 and you’ll drive by the roadside art tribute to the 1956 James Dean and Liz Taylor film, Giant. The display made of plywood was erected by artist John Cerney in October 2018. Certain parts of the movie were filmed at this spot which attracts thousands of passerby’s each year. Listen closely to hear some country music by The Monkees’ Michael Nesmith playing on loop. If you aren’t going to stop and just simply drive by, keep your eyes on the yellow car. It was installed in such a way that it seems like its following you as you drive by. A pretty cool feature!
Ummm, Andy Warhol Last Supper art exhibit in Marfa, TX! What else is there to say?! Oh yeah, it was FREE. Yeah. Andy Warhol. Free. Let that sink in. Photos weren’t allowed, but an absolute must see.
If I am being honest, this was probably the main reason that I wanted to visit Marfa. I have been a fan of Miuccia Prada (head designer at the global fashion powerhouse, Prada) since my career started at Neiman Marcus. And ever since I read about this Prada art installation in every major fashion magazine in the world, I needed to see it for myself. Sitting quietly along the same stretch of Hwy 90, the permanent sculptural art installation by artists Elmgreen and Dragset humbling gives this stretch of desert a hint of luxury. The muted palette of the structure harmoniously blends in with the neutrals of the landscape. The shoes and handbags from the Prada 2005 fall/winter collection sit still on shelves and display cases as visitors from around the globe make the trek to this exact location to witness this perfect duality of city and country. The faux store sits about 25 miles outside of Marfa on the left as you drive north on Hwy 90.
You cannot leave Marfa without stopping by The Chinati Foundation. Seeing the vast amount of art exhibitions may take all day so plan accordingly. Dan Flavin’s work of fluorescent lights, Robert Irwin’s use of light in his (dusk to dawn) exhibit and the 15 untitled works in concrete (shown above) that span about 5 acres are just a few of the must-see exhibits. Visit their site for a full list of current exhibitors. Pick a few that you like or see them all. Either way, just absolutely make sure you visit!