Where thou art, thou is home

They say a house is not a home, but I’d continue this and say for artists a home is not a home without art. Emily Dickinson wrote, “Where thou art, thou is home.” which I’d say every artist would agree with. I will admit, I do have an obsession with interior design (it is fascinating to see how everyone lives) however, I find that artist’s homes are the most insightful, especially when compared to their art. An artist’s aesthetic sensibilities are undoubtedly reflected in their home’s design and decor, and vice versa their art becomes a reflection of their everyday lifestyle. So continuing, somewhat, with the theme of last week, where I looked inside the artist studio, here is a peak inside the amazingly creative and inspiring homes of 10 great painter, sculptors, architects, and designers.

Charles and Ray Eames enjoying a moment together in their California home
Charles and Ray Eames enjoying a moment together in their California home
Georgia O’Keeffe – Abiquiu, New Mexico (resided 1945 – 1984)

After opting out of a European vacation, O’Keefe first visited New Mexico in 1929 with a friend and immediately fell in love with the dramatic landscape. From then on she spent as much time as she could exploring the desert; collecting bones, rocks, and other natural specimens that inspired some of her most famous paintings. In 1945 O’Keefe decided to make New Mexico her permanent home and purchased a 5,000-square-foot Spanish Colonial-era in Abiquiu, near her favorite place, Ghost Ranch. O’Keefe spent four years restoring the home to its original splendor with her friend Maria Chabot; and oh boy was it worth it! O’Keeffe resided in her desert oasis; painting, exploring, and living a quiet life until 1984 when she moved to Santa Fe. Information on visiting Ghost Ranch and O’Keeffe’s home here.

Julian Schnabel – Palazzo Chupi, 360 West 11th Street, New York, NY ( resided 2008 – present)

The outlandish bright pink building (though more of a dusty rose today), created by artist Julian Schnabel sits (or more likely, stands out) among historic buildings in New York’s iconic West Village. The building, named Palazzo Chupi after his wife’s pet name “chupi,” contains five lavish condominium units (one of which is the Schnabel family’s), a swimming pool, indoor parking, and Schanbel’s personal studio (on the lower four floors). Adding to the building’s magnificence is the myriad of balconies, splendid cast-stone and bronze railings and fireplaces, enormous windows with city and river views, lofty board-and-batten wooden ceilings, and Moroccan as well as other imported handmade tiles throughout. Considered a work of art by some and others a “monument to the artist’s ego,” Palazzo Chupi is more of a palace than a “humble abode” which you would expect from a working artist.

The Wyeth’s family home – Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania (resided 1911 – 1994)

Set upon 18 acres, overlooking the picturesque Brandywine Valley and surrounding countryside, renowned illustrator N.C. Wyeth purchased the quaint, colonial revival home in 1911 with the proceeds from his illustrations for Treasure Island. The home chosen by Wyeth for its “glorious,” view served as the greatest artistic inspiration for his extraordinarily creative family. With his studio nearby the house, N.C. Wyeth lived and painted on the property until his death in 1945. His wife continued to live in the house until 1973, with their daughter Carolyn Wyeth who lived and painted in the studio until her death in 1994. N.C. Wyeth’s youngest son, and most famous prodigy, Andrew Wyeth grew up in the home as well and painted in his own studio on the property from 1940 to 2008; where he created thousands of works of art inspired by the surrounding Pennsylvania farmland. The home and studios are currently owned and maintained by the Brandywine River Museum of Art and can be visited today.

Alexander Calder – Roxbury, Connecticut (family owned 1933 – present)

A man on the move, Alexander Calder lived in many places. Born in Lawnton, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia, Calder moved with his family to Oracle, Arizona, then to Pasadena, California, then back to Philadelphia, then Croton-on-Hudson, New York, and finally settled in the Bronx. As an adult, Calder continued this trend and did not stay put in one place for very long. From New Jersey, to California, Washington, Guatemala, New York, France and Connecticut; Calder experienced many things and was inspired by many places throughout his life. Two places, out of the many, though seem to have been Calder’s favorite and is where he called “home” for some time. In 1933, Calder returned to America from France with his new wife Louisa and settled in a farmhouse in Roxbury, Connecticut (pictured below). Here they raised a family of two daughters and filled their home with Calder’s artwork and artifacts from the couple’s travels. In 1962 France began calling, and Calder settled into a new home and workshop in Indre-et-Lorie, France which overlooked the valley of the Lower Chevrière to Saché. The Roxbury farmhouse remains in the Calder family to this day, and though it is a private residence (don’t go knocking on the door for a tour!), one blogger interestingly enough has discovered its elusive location. For a more in-depth look at Calder’s home life read Calder at Home: The Joyous Environment of Alexander Calder by Pedro Guerrero.

Frank Lloyd Wright – 951 Chicago Avenue, Oak Park, IL (resided 1889 – 1918)

With a $5,000 loan, a 22 year old (newly wed) Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built a home and studio for himself outside Chicago in 1889; something most 22 year olds couldn’t imagine doing today. Though only his third building project, the home and studio is still one of the most beautiful homes Wright ever built. Inspired by the beauty and simplicity of nature and the philosophy of combining architecture, art and design harmoniously; the home is filled with natural materials such as Roman brick, terra-cotta tile, burlap, stone, and lots and lots of oak. Rooms are bathed in warm light from the overhead skylights and windows decorated with lotus flower motifs, such as in the elegant barrel-vaulted playroom. Remodeled over the years by Wright, to accommodate his ever growing family, the home served as a template for experimentation and learning tool for the young architect. In 1910 Wright closed his Oak Park studio to begin work on his new home and studio, Taliesin, in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Wright’s wife remained in the Oak Park home with their children until 1918. Later, the home and studio became an apartment building, but by the 1960’s it fell into disrepair. In 1974 the residence was handed over to the Natural Trust for Historic Preservation, beginning its 13-year restoration. Today the home is fully restored and open to the public.

Claude Monet – Giverny, France (resided 1883 – 1926)

One of the most magnificent painters of all time, it is no surprise that Monet’s home would be just as beautiful as one of his canvases. Surrounded by the glorious gardens that he a perpetually painted, the home is a whimsical reflection of Monet’s personal style. From  the floor to ceiling blue and white tile walls and gleaming copper cookware in the kitchen to the sunny yellow dining room adorned with Monet’s collection of Japanese woodcuts each room’s decor was carefully conceived by the master painter. Monet lived and worked in his charming home until his death in 1926. His son Michel inherited the property, but after World War II the home, damaged from bombings, fell into disrepair. In the 1970’s a ten year renovation began to restore the home and gardens to their former glory; of which you can visit today.

Johnathan Adler and Simon Doonan – Greenwich Village, New York, NY (resided late 90’s – present)

A match made in design heaven, it is of no surprise that the home, of potter and designer, Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan, the creative ambassador for Barney’s, would be anything but drop dead gorgeous. The 2,500-square-foot duplex, which Doonan owned since the 90’s and expanded upon after meeting Adler, is an eclectic mix of contemporary art, groovy, mid-century inspired accessories (many of which are Adler’s designs) and furniture from all different design eras. Somehow though, this mumbo-jumbo design aesthetic works together in a fabulously kooky, chic, eccentric kind of way. It is clear that Adler and Doonan aren’t afraid to take risks in the name of home decor and it seems that less is never more when it comes to these two and the more spontaneous and wacky a room is, the better. See Adler and Doonan’s other marvelous mid-century summer retreat on New York’s Shelter Island.

George Nakashima – 1847 Aquetong Road, New Hope, PA (resided 1943 – 1990)

The homestead of Japanese-American woodworker and architect George Nakashima, famous for his organic “free-edge” designs, is surely a testament to excellent craftsmanship and architectural design. The building’s harmonious mix of modern design and traditional Japanese aesthetics and materials make it a place of peaceful ingenuity. Nestled amongst the trees and gently rolling hills of New Hope, Pennsylvania; Nakashima lived and worked at this compound from 1943, when he was invited there by architect Antonin Raymond who began the workshop and farm for aspiring architects to come live and work at, until his death in 1990. It was at the New Hope workshop where Nakashima began to explore the organic expressiveness of wood, creating furniture that utilized and highlighted the natural qualities of the wood, such as burls, figured grain, and raw, uncut edges. Nakashima’s career grew slowly at New Hope until 1973 when Nelson Rockefeller commissioned 200 pieces for his home in Pocantico Hills, New York. Today, considered one of the fathers of the American craft movement and a leading innovator of 20th century furniture design, Nakashima’s legacy is world renowned and his work highly collectible. Eight of Nakashima’s buildings, that he designed and built on the New Hope property between 1960 and 1975, can still be visited today.

Winslow Homer – Prouts Neck, Scarborough, ME (resided 1884 – 1910)

Isolation from the rest of the world and uninterrupted painting sessions was what Winslow Homer sought out when selecting the site for his new home and studio in the late 1800’s. Prouts Neck, a small peninsula in the town of Scarborough, proved to be the perfect spot for the successful artist. Exposed to the salty winds, continually whipping off the rocky shores of  the North Atlantic, the site was ideal for Homer to paint his famous scenes of Maine’s turbulent coast. The home, which was moved (by Homer’s request) 100 feet toward the ocean by Maine architect John Calvin Stevens in order to be more private (and probably to have a better view), was simple in its design and amenities. With no electricity or central heating, and miles away from a telegraph or post office; Homer’s studio was purposefully remote and uninviting (as well as unaccommodating) to visitors. Though, I have to say the enormous porch overlooking the ocean, large fireplace, and gorgeous wooden walls and floors look inviting enough for me! It certainly was enough for Homer too, as this was his final home and studio where he lived happily, looking out onto the stormy seas, until his death in 1910 at the age of 74. Today the Portland Museum of Art owns and maintains the property where you can make a reservation to visit.

Charles and Ray Eames – Case Study House #8, 203 Chautauqua Blvd., Pacific Palisades, CA (resided 1949 – 1988)

Being two of the most important contributors to furniture, industrial design, and architecture ever, the home of Charles and Ray Eames is certainly a critical part of design history. One of roughly two dozen homes built as part of The Case Study House Program which began in the mid-1940’s until the early 60’s, their home Case Study House #8 is a reflection of their design aesthetic and philosophy. The home which is located upon a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean was designed to be integrated into the landscape around it, instead of being imposed upon it like most buildings are. In addition pre-fabricated steel parts, intended for industrial construction were to be used to build the structure which was assembled within a matter of days. Charles and Ray proposed that the home they designed would be for a creative married couple, working within the arts. They wanted a home that would meld “life” and “work” together as one creative experience. Their home preserved by the Eames Foundation can be visited today.



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