Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Art of Marfa

I love vintage photographs. I collect them - each time I go to the flea market, I sift through boxes to find ones I like. Here's why - they're nostalgic, they're anonymous, and they are most always what we would consider a "friend photo." In other words, the photographer was looking for a good family photo, not necessarily one that stands on its own. But then there are some that work both ways. And those are the most fun to find.

For me it nods back to Weegee's methods. He was an amazing man-behind-the-lens, but he was there to get to the heart of the picture for a news story. He just had an exceptional eye for what exactly that was. Well, that's the idea here on a certain level - images to document a town or a family end up looking like art. I always learn something.

I found these vintage photos courtesy of the Marfa Public Library. They're all of Marfa, Texas.

Marfa is a tiny town about 500 miles south of Dallas, just an hour from the border of Mexico. In '71, the minimalist artist, Donald Judd moved to Marfa and shortly after created large scale art. He bought up buildings and displayed one artists' work on permanent collection (he felt this was the true way to learn about the artist). These days, two foundations maintain his legacy and a new wave of talent has entered the town. Still the population averages to less than one person per mile.

Those of you who know me have probably heard me talk about going to the desert once or twice. (I want to photograph it) I think Marfa is the place!

From top to bottom: First Baptist Church, Marfa, Texas, Photograph, July 1958; First Border Patrol in Marfa, Photograph, January 1928; Arnold's Art Studio. [Marfa, Texas 1918], Photograph, [ca. 1918]; [Sheep in a field near Marfa], Photograph, n.d.

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