A pilgrimage is a journey of moral or spiritual significance, typically to an important shrine or location. If you combine art with a summer pilgrimage, you set out on a journey where you will experience some world wonders, earth works and exciting installations. Some of modern and contemporary art’s most exciting large-scale pieces are in far-flung places, so we have pulled together some of our favorites. With a few weeks of summer left, there’s still time to visit at least one!
If you want to visit what is arguably America’s most prominent art pilgrimage site, then make your way to Marfa, Texas where artist Donald Judd created his own foundation, the Judd Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to maintain and preserve the artist’s permanently installed living and working spaces in New York and Texas. Judd, with the help of the Dia Foundation, purchased the 340 acre former U.S. Army Fort D.A. Russel just outside Marfa. The site was opened as a non-profit art center in 1986 by the Chinati Foundation, which Judd also founded. The collection includes large-scale works by Judd as well asDan Flavin, John Chamberlain and Richard Long, among others. Judd’s most notable works include 15 outdoor pieces in concrete and 100 aluminum pieces housed in two artillery sheds. Close to the Chinati Foundation is artist-duo Elmgreen & Dragset’s now famous Prada Marfa, which is well worth a visit too!
Robert Smithson’s monumental Spiral Jetty is located in Great Salt Lake, Utah. The artist used black basalt rocks and earth from the site, creating a coil 1,500 feet long and 15 feet wide that stretches out into the water. This earthwork sculpture was constructed in 1970 and is only visible when the level of the Great Salt Lake falls below an elevation of 4,195 feet. Spiral Jetty is located 15.5 miles beyond the Golden Spike National Historic Site. Roads are unpaved and high clearance or four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended. Trust us – it is worth the trek!
The Lightening Field by Walter De Maria, another iconic earthwork, is located in Western New Mexico. This “piece” is comprised of 400 polished stainless steel poles installed in a grid array measuring one mile by one kilometer. This “land installation” is intended to be experienced over an extended period of time. Overnight visits are encouraged during the months of May through October and visitors are supposed to experience the artwork during sunset and sunrise.
Lastly, for a treck outside of the United States, we highly reccommend a visit to dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany. This massive exhibition which takes place only every five years includes work by more than 300 artists spread over 8 venues and throughout the city of Kassel. Check out our post on dOCUMENTA (13) for more details and highlights from the 13th edition of this highly anticipated exhibition.