Marfa is situated between the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park, in the high desert of west Texas. Founded in the late 19th century as a railroad stop, Marfa derived its name from a character in The Brothers Karamazov. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, Marfa was a hardscrabble ranching community, perhaps most well-known as for its military post Fort D.A. Russell, one-time home to the 1st US Cavalry. At mid-century in west Texas, demography and modernity in Marfa were best reflected through the spectacular 1956 film Giant, starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, and Dennis Hopper.
In 1971, almost a century after Marfa’s founding, renowned minimalist artist Donald Judd moved from New York City to Marfa and began to permanently install his art. Judd acquired decommissioned Fort D.A. Russell and began transforming the barracks and buildings into art spaces in 1979. Today, Judd’s legacy lives on through the Chinati Foundation and the Judd Foundation, twin pillars on the modernist, minimalist art scene. More recently, the Lannan Foundation established a writers-in-residence program, Ballroom Marfa was formed as a mixed-media collaborative and exhibition space, and new waves of artists and artisans have made Marfa home.