Book review: Artists Living With Art



When I went to NYC in February to speak at Etsy, I also visited the Whitney Museum of Art. The Frank Stella Retrospective on display was wildly impressive (aside from a security guard who mistook normal friendliness as flirtation and tried to give me his number. Uh, thanks? So not here for that.) it was a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. Of course, no museum adventure is complete without a browse through the museum shop where I found this book Artists Living with Art by Stacey Goergen & Amanda Benchley. Instantly I was taken with it, but feeling it’s heft knowing I’d have to schlep it back to Brooklyn and into my suitcase back to Chicago, I passed on it thinking I would snag it on Amazon. Finally, I did just that.

Beyond the gorgeous photos by Oberto Gili, it’s a peek into some incredible artist’s homes. My favorite part is seeing the seemingly random assortment of objects they’ve chosen to inhabit their space. Such mystery and intrigue, why and how they were found and collected. What stories they tell their owners and how they influence the work. More often than not, it’s those types of objects that tell an artist lives in such a space. Anyone can develop a taste and collection of art for their walls, but it says something more when there’s seemingly random collection of materials lying about, or enough of an unusual presence in the space that it blares ARTIST LIVING HERE to almost anyone dropping by.  And sometimes there is a direct correlation between an artist’s work and their domestic life, and sometimes the two are entirely divorced. Both of which I find fascinating because this fact says so much about how a person lives and what their artmaking process is like.

Here are some of my favorite spaces in the book, in no particular order.

artist-living-with-art-5Multi-disciplinary artist Rashid Johnson’s dining room and mantle. The colors in that painting by Sam Gilliam!! Whoa. Paired with the restrained works by Tony Lewis and Glenn Ligon respectively make a bold statement. Glenn’s home also makes an appearance in this book too.


Mary Heilmann’s living room, chock full of art. This is what I mean when I talk about spaces only an artist would create. Few would fill an entire wall up, right down to the floor, unconcerned about degrading a work by putting it on the floor. It’s so unpretentious. I love it. Note the peek of the outdoors through the back, and I’m imagining a lush green space complimenting every window view.

artists-living-with-art-3Michelle Oka Doner. A new artist to me, I gasped when I laid eyes on this massive wall drawing by Doha sheiks. Paired with a jumble of sticks and what appears to be massive geodes or rocks, it’s a perfect match. Lots of botanical items, oversized driftwood, bronze, and books everywhere make this a space I could dwell in for ages.


Helen & Brice Marden’s space. Love how the textiles play off the texture in the works by Helen herself, and how the sunlight sparkles off the Eames lounge chair. This is a space that positively dazzles with vibrant color and warmth.


Eric Fischl & April Gornik’s Asian inspired home is jaw-droppingly gorgeous and seems to be custom designed and build to be as gorgeous as the art inside. A wealth of interesting angles to see, in this spread there is even a glass-walled library in an elevated mezzanine-style catwalk. Please. It’s too good. I can’t take it.


Another new-to-me artist, E.V. Day’s space is equal parts feminine and feral. Strikes me as the quintessential New York style loft space most people think of when they imagine an artist’s space. What I love about this photo is the tension in E.V.’s work paired with the floral and cobalt blues. Most of the space appears to have been styled while the rest is entirely lived in and worked in, full of clutter. She strikes me as someone who is unconcerned about the difference between her domestic and work selves.


Francesco Clementine house is full of warmth, with this golden yellow hue gracing much of the place. That Cy Twombly drawing above the fireplace is so much yes, paired with a Basquiat drawing to the left, Noguchi tables, and Frank Lloyd Wright chairs. Timeless perfection.


Cindy Sherman’s space surprised me. I didn’t expect this master of disguise to create a space that is quite so approachable. Clearly unafraid of color, texture, there is much happening at once which can feel claustrophobic, but here is invigorating. It feels like the art on her walls are her friends, and ours too, should one be lucky enough to visit.

Overall, A+ for any art or interior design fan. The writing style overall is as pleasant and easy to read as the photos are to look at. Not overwrought or dry like so much art writing can be, making it full of substance and style. Just my cup of tea. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go re-arrange my own space. This book has given me so many ideas!

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