Public Safety & Justice

November 2013 Last Look: Playboy Killed the Prada Marfa

Following a precedent set by a Playboy installation that was deemed an unlicensed advertisement, Texas ordered the demolition of an iconic art installation.
November 2013
Sue Stokes/Shutterstock.com

For eight years, Prada Marfa, an iconic art installation alongside a dusty highway off U.S. Route 90 near Marfa, Texas, has drawn thousands of art lovers and travelers alike. But the famous structure’s days may be numbered. In September, the “pop architectural” stucco and adobe building was deemed a form of unlicensed advertising, akin to a billboard, by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The ruling came after the agency made a similar determination for a nearby installation commissioned by Playboy magazine. That installation, which was ordered down, featured a black muscle car and a 40-foot-tall post topped with a neon-lit Playboy bunny. But unlike Playboy Marfa, the Prada building “was not a work commissioned by the fashion brand,” wrote the artists, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, on their blog. “The right definition of advertisement must be based on criteria more accurate than just including a sign which contains a logo.” TxDOT gave no timeline for a final ruling.

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