A Marfa of the Mind

A friend mentioned the artist Donald Judd, and on returning home I looked him up. You can, too. American, minimalist who hated the term, 1928-1994. Concerned himself with structures and space–first in New York City, then in Marfa, Texas. You can see them on the web–freestanding structures and the space they define and inhabit. And it got me thinking.

Art is creation, and creation is solitary. But after that? It’s only human to want feedback and a dialog, and in that sense even the gods of old were human.

But response is an acknowledgement, which is hardly guaranteed. And further, it’s tangential to the work itself. Judd’s response was to go into the vast west and set up large-scale works by him and his contemporaries, acres upon acres. He set up a physical and philosophical context. Because that is what this country offers: empty space. So many American artists (American being simply a geographical term) have gone into the desert, the vast spaces of this country, to hear themselves more clearly. Space and silence are the surface on which the art of this land is writ. Come to think of it, how much of human history was made by people going to a lonely place to seek, to find.

It’s only when we expect feedback/response that we are disappointed, and disappointment can turn into a sour sense of entitlement. But the land is correct and the space is correct, because creation is its own reward, whether that created thing is intended as artistic, industrial, whatever. It is not for us to say; it is not for us to expect. Ours is to do, and to do is an of reaching out.

The great gestures of history stand alone and complete unto themselves. To house them we need only create a Marfa of the mind.


~ by Shirley Kwan on October 15, 2012.

One Response to “A Marfa of the Mind”

  1. Judd leaves an invisible “answer-space” in the viewer’s (my) mind… I wouldn’t call him “minimalist” either, but maybe a proper term has yet to be recognized.

    Recent events I’d prefer stay between you and me had me wondering that there’s such thing as an addiction to flattery. I concluded yes, and with your background, I expect you’ve seen “a sour sense of entitlement” in more than one peer…

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