'Playboy Marfa' Heads East
Some protective Marfan art-lovers and the Texas Department of Transportation can breathe a big sigh of relief. Artist Richard Phillip’s controversial Playboy Marfa sculpture is on its way to a new destination: the Dallas Contemporary.
The work, which plays homage to 1970s American culture, landed on Highway 90 this summer and quickly stirred up a tempest in a West Texas teapot. Residents felt the 40-foot-tall neon Playboy logo hovering over a stylized 1972 Dodge Charger fell under the aegis of a corporate advertisement, rather than a true work of art. It wasn’t long before the Texas Department of Transportation deemed it illegal and gave Playboy 45 days to dismantle it.
But Phillips, who cited Donald Judd as a huge influence in the construction of the work, which also features a Juddian concrete rectangle, views Playboy Marfa and its signature bunny as “a beacon, a touchstone where all these different aspects of our lives — art, politics, sex — come together without contradiction.”
The work, originally commissioned by Neville Wakefield and Landis Smithers, Playboy’s team in charge of reviving the brand for a younger generation, will be installed in The Dallas Contemporary in late March and will be part of Phillip’s upcoming exhibition there, which opens April 11.