I recently binge-watched “I Love Dick,” having grown intrigued by reading an interview with the male lead, Kevin Bacon, in Esquire. While I enjoyed the show’s trainwreck-y drive, I was struck by the artwork created by Bacon’s character Dick Jarrett, an art instructor and internationally-renowned Texan artist/cowboy. It’s a reasonable question to ask whether Dick’s art is any good. But the real question is whether the art the creators envisioned their character might create is any good — good enough to make feasible his fictional status as a world-famous sculptor and land artist.
Dick’s closest comparison in the art world is Donald Judd, a pioneer of ready-mades. While born in Missouri, his foundation is based in Marfa, Texas, where all the action in “I Love Dick” takes place, and Judd is the reason why Marfa actually is, in real life, a destination for artists and writers. Judd’s Chinati Foundation has a permanent collection featuring works by the likes of Carl Andre and Richard Long as part of a 340-acre desert plot of land.
In the 1960s, Judd proactively turned against what he considered traditional, European art values, and focused on “specific objects,” which included ready-mades, purchased and arranged by the artist but not “made” by him. He also combined sculpture with architecture and land art, blurring the boundaries, as in his 1977 Untitled (calling your work Untitled represents a thoroughly unhelpful shrug of the shoulders, but it has been the hip thing to do since the ’60s), which consists of Cor-Ten steel rings in an outdoor landscape in Munster, Germany. He preferred “plain and simple” art, focusing on angles and sheets and clean lines. He’s the sort of artist who would certainly have said “I like a straight line.” He famously floated a basketball in a glass tank of water.