Specific Objections: Three Exhibitions

I AM NOT SURE DONALD JUDD WOULD HAVE LAUGHED—HIS CLOSE CIRCLE might know better, but he never struck me in deed or word as having much of a sense of humor. Yet John Waters’s poster Visit Marfa, 2003, like all his other satirical endeavors, is pitch-perfect in its irreverent and bittersweet take on what could only have been the sculptor’s worst nightmare: Minimalism as mass tourism and entertainment.

“Take the Whole Family to Marfa, Texas,” exhorts the broadside, beneath a Li’l Abner–style middle-class family, grinning like they’ve just won a vacation to Disney World. A bubble on the poster advertises “The Jonestown of Minimalism,” mocking the tenacious cliché of the movement’s “spirituality” by likening it to a senseless sect. The target is an apt one, considering that the quasi-religious interpretation of Minimalism proposed by New Age zealots such as James Turrell is forever on the rise,

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