Entering an artist’s home is like entering their inner world.
You can gather additional pieces of information and stray anecdotes that may only be discovered by observing the spaces where good ideas were born (and where less than great ideas die). From sprawling coastal castles to dilapidated bohemian abodes, for these five artists, the most influential places they visited were often the very ones they called home.
Best known for her paintings of enlarged flowers and desert landscapes, American modernist artist Georgia O’Keeffe was always observing her environment. After living in New York and travelling regularly to New Mexico to paint, the artist decided to make the desert her permanent home. O’Keeffe occupied two houses there, but lived year-round in a hacienda in Abiquiú that she finally succeeded purchasing in 1945 after ten years of hassling the local Church to sell it to her.
Originally in ruins, the 5,000-square-foot residence had to be restored, and in 1949 she moved in. The clay structure was in keeping with local adobe-style architecture, though O’Keeffe made it distinctly modern: large windows let in natural light, minimalist interiors featured modernist furnishings, and walls left mostly empty apart from a few artworks. Rocks and bones adorn mantels and windowsills. She also cultivated a garden that fed her and her visitors. Now owned by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, you can still visit the property today.
Nestled within the small bay of Portlligat in Catalonia, Spain is the maximalist home of Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dalí. What started as a simple fisherman’s hut in 1930 soon grew to encompass numerous adjacent cottages, becoming a rambling property for the artist and his muse Gala who lived there for 40 years. After Gala’s death in 1982, Dalí left the house and never to return, leaving behind most of his personal belongings. The labyrinth-like house is staggered at varying levels, interlinked by narrow corridors that lead to multiple rooms and his main studio space, all with oddly shaped windows that frame the coastal landscape that often inspired his work.
Whitewashed walls enclose various collected objects including stuffed animals, bunches of dried yellow sempervivum flowers (Gala’s favourite), velvet upholstery, and antique furniture. For Dalí, clutter was cosy. Outdoors, the entertainment area is a surrealist playground, filled with olive trees, gigantic egg sculptures, the iconic pink-lipped Mae West sofa, and complete with the famous phallus-shaped swimming pool. There’s even an additional studio space featuring glass skylights that allowed Dalí to paint people’s feet because of course there was. You can see it all for yourself one day too, it’s open to the public.
From Picasso and Miró, to Giacometti and Chagall, Catalan sculptor Joan Gardy-Artigas has worked alongside them all. A trusted collaborator and artist in his own right, he learnt everything about making modern art from his ceramicist father, Josep Llorens Artigas. After his father’s passing, he decided to honour him by starting the J.Llorens Artigas foundation, an idyllic farmhouse of artist studios called El Racó.
Located outside of Barcelona in Gallifa at the foothills of a majestic mountain range, it’s a place where artists can stay in residence and work on their practice, and also where Gardy-Artigas himself lives. The property is set within a sea of green gardens, featuring a towering Miró sculpture. The building’s exterior also exhibits a sculptural mural titled ‘Gallifa’s tits’—yes, a wall of ceramic tits. Natural light floods the large open-plan studios, where Gardy-Artigas moves from room to room creating every day. It’s rural, peaceful, and a place dedicated to creating. What a life.
For almost half a century, renowned French-American artist Louise Bourgeois lived in a Chelsea townhouse that was as intimate as the subjects she explored within her work. Purchased in 1962 for less than $30,000 with her husband Robert Goldwater, the townhouse served as a family home with her studio in the basement. Later dealing with the loss of her husband, she rearranged the entire space and decided to let her studio inhabit every room.
The house is cluttered with art materials, papers, filing cabinets, photographs and trinkets (her assistant of thirty years, Jerry Gorovoy, attests she never threw anything away). The walls are covered in drawings, floor to ceiling bookshelves and phone numbers hand-scrawled on them once Bourgeois gave up on keeping a phone book. As the artist put it herself: ‘I’m using the house, the house is not using me.’ An innately personal and protective space, walking into Bourgeois’ home is like walking into her web.
The hanging mobile sculptures by Alexander Calder are immediately recognisable, and his studio and home in Saché, France displayed many of them. The countryside atelier was designed and built to function as his European studio, overlooking the Indre Valley. Several years after it was built, Calder and his wife moved into a second dwelling next to it.
While their home in Connecticut was known for its regular drunken soireés, the French home was more an ode to work and the modernist colour palette. The farmhouse’s interior is bright and airy, with panels of floor to ceiling windows that let natural light stream across various carpets and textiles that Calder made. The high ceilings were the perfect test site for his mobiles and the rolling hills outside were the ideal place to trial the artist’s latest outdoor sculptures.