T’s Spring Design Issue: An Artist’s House Is Never Just a House – The New York Times

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Letter from the Editor
T Magazine’s spring Design issue explores homes where creative work gets done, from a former agricultural commune near Berlin to a vibrant Modernist fantasy in Los Angeles.

For an artist, home is not just a shelter. It’s a studio, a refuge, a cabinet of secrets, a site of inspiration. It’s where work gets done — work that will someday be released into the world but also, just as crucially, work that will end up in the trash, literally or figuratively. Home is a place to experiment, to make mistakes, to be vulnerable. Home is a place where you never have to defend your creations.
There are just as many ways to make art as there is art itself, which is why there’s no prototypical artist’s house. Yet say the phrase “artist’s dwelling,” and a few images, burrowed into our subconscious, are automatically conjured: the SoHo loft with its coffee cans of paintbrushes, the ramshackle countryside estate with its splintering easels and pottery wheels, the Parisian poet’s garret, candlelit and chilly and romantically bleak.
A real artist’s house, however, is as singular and idiosyncratic as the artist who inhabits it: It is a 1962 Modernist fantasy in mauve and plywood with views of Los Angeles, designed by Eric Lloyd Wright, a grandson of Frank, and meant to feel like a cocoon for its chief inhabitant, the erotic writer Anaïs Nin; it is the modest, tidy North Carolina childhood house of the singer and activist Nina Simone, now being preserved by four Black visual artists, and declared a national treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation; it is the conceptual artist Danh Vo’s farm in the countryside near Berlin, formerly a G.D.R. agricultural collective, that he’s resurrecting on his own terms as a retreat for artists of all kinds to come and make things — whether those things are ceramics or sauerkraut.
By definition, any place an artist lives, works and dreams is an artist’s house. We want to look inside because we hope seeing how they live will reveal something about how they think. But what makes an artist create art is very rarely visible; it’s something they carry within them, something only they can see — the artist lives in the house, but the art lives in the artist.
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