06 June 2011

Donald Judd as Inspiration

Seeing the completed back gate and pergola reminded me of one of our inspirations: Donald Judd.

Judd is a relatively iconic modernest artist (and architect, frankly) of the 20th century. I was introduced to his life and work first in Marfa, Texas, his adopted home. There he made quite a mark, adopting the landscape and the area's buildings as a palate for his stark modernist works. He purchased an abandoned airfield and its buildings and many of the buildings in the town of Marfa itself.

In my opinion, one of the best places to visit on a trip to Marfa is Judd's home, called La Mansana. His home complex sits in the middle of town, and is only open by scheduled tour. Docents no longer allow photography, which in my mind is complete ridiculousness, but when we visit in 2006, photos were allowed. And I post some of those here.

Here, inside the tall adobe walls are some of the inspiring views from Judd's personal compound, including this substantial pergola covered in grape vines that conceals a dark black Judd outdoor table and seats.

Judd's work is very geometric, with squares as a major theme. He seems to place a lot of emphasis on objects aligning on axes as well as object spacing and repetition with variation.

The pergola above was most definitely a conscious and subconscious inspiration for our own. The wide slats and spacing, the geometrical precision. The heftiness.

Next to the pergola is a stand of cottonwood in rows and this beautiful raised pool made of cement.

Gorgeous and simple. Strangely organic and natural but also very controlled and linear. I'm not sure if Judd invented the idea of the raised concrete pool, but it can be readily found in modern landscapes around this state and beyond. Either he was picking up on a trend, or he's influenced a number of landscape architects and architects around Texas. 

Here's another table, placed right in the middle of the harsh West Texas courtyard. No shade. But completely in line with the entrance to the main house in the background. This is probably an amazing table to sit out on a cool West Texas evening as the sun goes down and the Milky Way appears across the night sky. Candles. Barbacoa tacos. Ceramic plates. Thick glasses with cool sangria. Can you imagine? 

Even the chicken coops below are built with Judd's typical square cross-beam style. No chickens now, unfortunately, but inspirational nonetheless.

There are hundreds more inspirations than Judd, of course, as they infuse our minds both subtlety and not. And anyway these are just a very paltry example of Judd's legacy that I'm including. I highly recommend a visit.


Anonymous said...

Judd probably drew inspiration for his raised concrete pools from old water troughs found all over Texas.
We have some on our land that were built in the 1920's.

Lee said...

Ah, yes. I wondered if that might be the case. I've seen similar troughs in other ranch/agriculture situations as well. I love that ideas can be repurposed like that.