My trip to Marfa

to Mar(t)fa, rather…



It was a complete visual and cultural shock—as a lover of art and the countryside, I was overwhelmed. It was as if discovering a separate universe, everything was beautiful, a sort of nostalgia touched with a hint of arid dryness. I actually liked the heat, not so stifling, and the feeling of liberty, along with the endless countryside. During my 48 hours here, it was as if I were in a movie, in a dreamed-up era, in what my own imagination could have never invented.


I had the impression of not knowing where I was, in a Lana Del Rey music video perhaps—all of my senses were alert despite the incredible heat. Marfa is honestly a sanctuary for contemporary art! I was taken aback, utterly amazed and captivated by its atmosphere, this new universe. Everything was bare and open, service stations, buildings, the countryside—this place was “oddly inspiring.”


“Marfa is the ultimate paradox between Donald Judd’s visionary American art, with the remnants of the American dream about the great Hollywood era and the actual town, poor and isolated,” said Benjamin Millepied. In effect, the choreographer was in Marfa last month–Figaro Madame commented by stating “For the first time, Millepied shares his impressions from an American standpoint, and before his company the L.A. Dance Project preforms at the Luma Foundation in Arles.”


Marfa seemed pretty popular, even though parts of the trip weren’t all that convenient. Coming from New York, we had to first pass through Dallas, fly into El Paso, and then drive for more than three hours before finally arriving in this small town of only 1900 inhabitants.

I loved the drive to Marfa—all 300 km of the trip were “in the middle of an endless, horizontal desert.”


Benjamin Millepied described this experience perfectly: “the trip sharpens your view and cleanses your spirit to better prepare you for an ex-perience where art brings you closer to nature.”


Marfa is a paradise for minimalist American contemporary art, especially for Donald Judd who, as early as his teen years, fell in love with this place. Judd required space, the entire idea of his works fit within a thought concerning the inclusion of these ideas in a spacious context. He’s also responsible for a large part of the Chinati Foundation, where the monumental works of two of his best friends, Dan Flavin and John Chamberlain, are showcased in its spacious hangars. The tour of Rudd’s house and workshop was also quite an overwhelming experience which allowed the visitors to understand the importance the artist accorded to details, his way of life, and above all to the progression of his thoughts. I admire this form of discipline, this sense of organization and overflowing creativity. The artist pushes for diligence and hard work. When he wants to rest, it has to be entirely. Not one comfortable chair exists in his space, either you sit on uncomfortable chairs which are nonetheless conducive to creativity and concentration, or lay down on one of the beds present in many of the house’s rooms—a good part of the furniture is obviously signed by Judd.


In Marfa, I am completely submerged in this “Summertime Sadness,” but I’m feeling even more alive.


Address : 

El cosmico,

El cosmico,

Pizza Foundation,

Pizza Foundation,


La Chinati Foundation

Le studio et tout l’univers de Donald Judd,

Donald Judd ‘s Studio
Le Prada Shop (US-90, Valentine, TX 79854)
Ballroom Marfa

See you soon,


Emilie Renault

Translated by Brianna Reed, Vassar College ‘16

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