Monument to the Last Horse
The Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas
Gift of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen to The Chinati Foundation
Aluminum and polyurethane foam; painted with polyurethane enamel
19 ft. 8 in. x 17 ft. x 12 ft. 4 in. (6 x 5.2 x 3.8 m)
Temporarily installed at Seagram Plaza, New York, June 1-August 24, 1991
Installed September 10, 1991
Inaugurated October 12, 1991
In Marfa, located in the vast highlands of west Texas, the artist Donald Judd had established The Chinati Foundation, named after a nearby mountain, to exhibit his work as well as that of several other artists. The foundation is housed in what had once been Fort D. A. Russell, the home base of the First U. S. Cavalry, and the complex of barracks and buildings includes the Arena, a former gymnasium, which Judd had restored and redesigned. In October 1987, on one of our visits to Chinati, Don, who was a close friend, showed us a crumbling marker along a dirt road commemorating "Louie," the last horse of the regiment, which was disbanded in 1932. Noting that although common in statuary, horses seldom are the subject of their own monument, Coosje proposed creating one for Louie, a project in line with Judd's desire to preserve the history of the area. Judd approved the project enthusiastically. Not long thereafter we found on his ranch near the Rio Grande an old rusted horseshoe, which became our prototype. It was twisted and a long curved nail found nearby was inserted through one of its holes, to make the shape more three-dimensional.
In talks with Don, we first planned to lay adobe on a large profile of the horseshoe to simulate earth stuck to it, but in the fabrication that eventually followed – on the East Coast, far from Marfa -- sprayed rigid foam was substituted, and painted an earthy brown. The shoe was fixed on top of a larger version of Louie’s original marker and, like it, inscribed "Animo et Fide" -- "Spirited and Faithful."
On its way from the factory to the site, the sculpture was installed temporarily in the plaza in front of Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building on Park Avenue, in New York City. There it passed a summer in marked contrast to its setting, before traveling to its true destination on a slope overlooking a field that contains a row of Judd's large-scale concrete pieces and affords a spectacular view of the sunrise. The Monument to the Last Horse was presented to The Chinati Foundation in October 1991, with a live horse, "Old Blaze," in attendance.
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