Artist’s houses, we know some of them, think of Peter Paul Rubens’ house in Antwerp or the one of James Ensor in Ostend. When I was little I went to the beautiful house and garden of Claude Monet in Giverny, France. Unfortunately, I possess no memories of that visit, only a set of pictures of my sisters, my mother and me in the garden remind me of this very moment. The famous Impressionist painter lived in the house with its pink crushed brick facade from 1883 until his death in 1926. Some of his most important and well-known paintings were of his garden with its archways of climbing plants, the water full of water lilies and the Japanese bridge.
Artist’s houses have something special, they are one of a kind. Reason enough to write a book about this phenomenon. In The artist’s house. From workplace to artwork Kirsty Bell analyses the combination of house and workplace of twenty artists from the last hundred years and the influence it may have on their work. She discusses contemporary artists as Jorge Pardo, Gregor Schneider, Mark Leckey, Marc Camille Chaimowicz, or Katarina Grosse. They are further contextualised by key artists of the twentieth century as Kurt Schwitters, Alice Neel and Louise Bourgeois.
Based on a series of site visits and interviews with living artists about the role of their home in relation to their work, Bell takes you through several categories of the house as dream space, theater, vehicle, receptacle, and total interior. The book does not only offer an insight into how hard it is for artists to separate the private and the public, Bell also shows that the cult of the ever traveling artist with his ‘portable’ studio is a myth. At the end every well-traveled artist returns home. The artist’s house proposes an interesting analysis (you can agree with Bell or not) and shows you the exceptional homes of the most diverse artists today. I wish I could visit them all.