- Hardcover: 602 pages
- Publisher: Thames & Hudson; 1 edition (April 22, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0500977070
- ISBN-13: 978-0500977071
- Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 2 x 13 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #755,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sanctuary: Britain's Artists and their Studios 1st Edition
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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“Offers a rare glimpse into the work spaces of 120 of today’s most creative minds.”
- Fast Co.Design
“Features in-depth interviews with artists as well as gorgeous photography.”
- Public Art Review
About the Author
Hossein Amirsadeghi is a writer, publisher, editor and documentary film maker, and the driving force behind many books, including Sanctuary: Britain's Artists and their Studios, Art Studio America, Nordic Contemporary, and Contemporary Art Mexico.
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Santuary’s first chapter, focusing on Iwona Blazwick, describes the role of studio space, not only for creation, but also for promotion. If the artist can’t get a gallery to show the work, the studio can be used for display. Who else would epitomize this than Andy Warhol, whose “factory” was an art studio, museum, party space, and a physical advertisement. But Warhol had a lot more going for him than a lot of British artists; New York City in the 1960’s was cheap, and Warhol had backing from wealthy patrons. He was an exception to how artists usually live and work.
Rachel Whiteread, probably one of the best known of the YBA, says she lived in a council flat when she was just starting out. She discusses how she did her drawings on a kitchen table in the winter, and used her unheated studio in the summer. This illustrates the issue behind the personalized studio, in that it effects the physical size of the art. Take for instance an artist who can’t afford a studio at all, so she does small drawing in her apartment. She won’t have room for big canvases, and in a residential building, she can’t use flammable paint or anything with a bad smell. You’d think this wouldn’t be a handicap, but it will be if the galleries want to show big paintings. Even more ironic is that in big cities, apartments are usually too small to display big art. Some of the best pieces in Whiteread’s studio are small ones, probably done on the average drawing pad from the local stationary store. Then again, maybe not, maybe they’re done on “special” paper that costs 50 pennies for a letter-size sheet? Either way, whatever artwork she’s been doing for the last 20 years required a large investment. She says her earliest works came as the result of grants. She should feel lucky to have gotten them.
One thing that would create a great dynamic in this book would “rivalry dialogue,” where two artists critique each other. Since this book is about studios not artwork, I would love to have seen Frances Bacon and the Chapman Brothers trash each other’s workspace. Bacon, Freud, Hockney, and a lot of the older British artists have charming studios, in little side street “mews” or country houses. But Whiteread and the Chapmans, despite their reputations for shock, have rather conservative space. The Chapmans’ studio looks like the inside of a warehouse, with white walls, concrete floors, and relatively little art displayed on the wall. It looks nothing like the celebratory image of Andy Warhol’s factory. As for Whiteread, her studio looks like a cramped graphic design firm, with lightboxes, long tables, and lots of things taped to the wall. Maybe this illustrates the British work ethic of these artists? When you don’t have the access to patronage and capital, as the New York artists did, you probably have to hustle. Turning your studio into a 24 hour party zone would be out of the question.
Looking back on my days in London (circa 1990) I remember the condition of the city; run-down neighborhoods, undesirable areas, and that should’ve meant plenty of space for studios. But at the time, Britain lacked one thing that the New York art world had, and that was capital patronage. The USA had millionaires; Rockefeller, Carnegie, Cooper, Hewitt, Pratt, Whitney, Guggenheim, and Vanderbilt, all competing to build universities and museums. The Guggenheims were huge patrons of the arts, and Pollock and De Kooning would’ve been nothing without patronage. Britain didn’t have all the millionaire industrialists looking to promote the artists, so Britain’s art scene came in late. But in the last decade, even London’s art scene is being edged out by cheaper cities like Berlin. In fact most of the work at the Venice Biennial is probably made in Berlin, as discussed in the book DARK MATTER. I wonder where the next one will be?
Maybe it’ll be Florida, where the housing is cheap and the weather is sunny?