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Until an artist version of Cribs is invented, the best way we can get inside an artist’s life and work is to get inside their studios. Photographs of artists in their studios are kind of like snapshots of an artistic career, a whole body of work compressed into a single room. A working and living space tells a lot about the person that inhabits it, and the spare objects and trashed drafts tossed around the room communicate eloquently about artists’ inner lives. I’ve collected some cool studio shots that all communicate something inexpressible about the artists they shelter.

Picasso’s Villa Californie

“Picasso, Villa Californie, Cannes 1957” (photograph by Andre Villers)

Picasso’s Southern France Villa Californie studio was his last place of work before the artist’s death. Home to some of Picasso’s radical late-career experiments, the space was stuffed with knick-knacks, totems and canvases.

Mark Rothko’s Garage

Mark Rothko in his Long Island studio (image from parrishart.org)

Mark Rothko’s Long Island work space is famously prosaic for an artist so focused on the ineffable. A garage provided all the shelter Rothko needed to create his canvases, though the artist later had a Manhattan studio rigged with ropes to hoist his large paintings.

Francis Bacon’s Paint Tornado

Perry Ogden, “Francis Bacon’s Studio at 7 Reece Mews, London” (2001) (image from askyfilledwithshootingstars.com)

Along with his infamous alcoholism and propensity for cross-dressing, Bacon also liked to splatter his paint all over his studio walls. No surface of his London workspace was safe from color, whether a bright sunny red or an unappealing flesh tone.

Lucian Freud’s Living Room

David Dawson, “Lucian Freud Working at Night” (2005) (image from aphelis.net)

Lucian Freud’s studio spaces often seem set up for the comfort of the sitter rather than the painter. While models recline on the couch, the wiry artist sways behind his canvas.

Takashi Murakami’s Factory

Takashi Murakami’s Lucky Wide Studio (photo by Koichiro Matsui, Kaikai Kiki)

Though the artists we’ve seen above keep intimate spaces for their art making, Takashi Murakami requires a full staff to carry out his manufactured projects. Still, even this storage space has some of the character of Murakami’s work, a playful sense of the surreal.

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Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...

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