The unforgettable images in That Day: Pictures in the American West, Laura Wilson’s new book of photographs, tell sharply drawn stories of the people and places that have shaped, and continue to shape, the dynamic and unyielding land known as the western United States. As Rick Brettell writes in the Dallas Morning News, “She has made powerful images imbued with a stubborn humanism — the pictorial embodiment of her respect for the diverse men and women who live in the hardscrabble environments she prefers.”
Text from Wilson’s journals accompanies the photographs in this stunning collection; in the journal entries, she recalls personal experiences behind the camera at the moment when a particular image was captured. Here’s a photo of Donald Judd taken on this day 22 years ago, along with the accompanying journal entry.
Donald Judd, Marfa, Texas, November 3-4, 1993
I was sent in November 1993 by London’s Sunday Times Magazine to photograph Donald Judd, whom the editor called the “minimalist maverick”. I found Judd to be suspicious of me, which made him difficult to photograph, and ornery, which made me like him. I had the run of his spectacular location in Marfa on the vast grasslands of far West Texas with antelope roaming among the installations and buildings. He first came to this part of the country in the 1950s, when the Army sent him cross-country on a bus. The bus had stopped in nearby Van Horn, which was, at the time, a very small town— “like a shack thrown up around a gumball machine,” Judd remembered. In Marfa, I photographed his concrete and milled-aluminum sculptures, his collections of Native American art and European furniture, his reconstituted army barracks, and remote ranch house with its beautiful, curved, twelve-foot-high stone walls. At the end of five days, we left on the same small plane, I back to Dallas, and he to see his parents in Missouri. He said he didn’t feel well, that he’d picked up an amoeba while drinking from a stock tank. He was mistaken. It was cancer. Judd never returned to Marfa. Two months later, he was dead. I was the last person to photograph him.