Photos: Kirstie Marie Photography

The history of Prada Marfa

Prada Marfa is a permanent sculptural art installation by Berlin-based artists Elmgreen and Dragset. The piece is modeled after a Prada boutique, and was commissioned by the Art Production Fund and Ballroom Marfa in 2005. Luxury goods from the famed brand’s 2005 collection of bags and shoes fill the airy space, and visitors can view the products through glass windows. The adobe structure of the building mimics the architectural style of Marfa, a small desert city in west Texas. As a center for minimalist art, the city also boasts installations from famed Manhattan artist Donald Judd. Prada Marfa is located about 26 miles from Marfa.

Adobe building material

In the United States, adobe is a prevalent building material in the arid Southwest. Essentially, the material is a dried mud-brick: tightly compacted clay, sand, and grass mixed with moisture that dries naturally in the sun, then formed into bricks without the use of an oven or kiln. The biodegradable material slowly melts back into the earth. Therefore, the sculpture ostensibly serves as a surrealist commentary on Western materialism.

Although Prada Marfa looks like a real store, the front door is always locked. It will never function as a place of commerce. The Texas Department of Transportation granted the sculpture museum status in 2014. Ultimately, it has become an iconic roadside attraction for art-enthusiasts to visit from all over the world.

A Texas landmark for over 15 years

In 2020, Prada Marfa marked its 15 year anniversary. Ballroom Marfa released the first interview with Elmgreen and Dragset in celebration of the event. “Prada Marfa has lived its own life. We like to see it as a classic Hollywood Diva that has lived both a very rough life and a very glamourous life at the same time.” — Elmgreen & Dragset

Photos: Kirstie Marie Photography