One of the novelties of the rise of Modernism was the reconsideration of the notion of the artist’s private space. For a long time, they used ateliers or studios to create art; however, with the changing social and political circumstances in the mid-19th and early 20th century, this particular space became a sort of class privilege.
Therefore, many artists improvised and made their living spaces into ateliers and so the line between the public and private space became blurred as art historians, curators, gallerists became increasingly interested in sensing the atmosphere in which artwork is created.
Gradually, regardless of the differences in social status, the artist’s room became a mandatory condition for art-making and sort of a phenomenon that marked the 20th-century art production still present today.
To unravel the magic behind the closed doors of these private/public spaces, Ordovas decided to organize an exciting online exhibition simply called The Artist’s Room.
The starting point of this showcase was the photographs of Henri Matisse’s home in Vence, Villa Le Rêve, which depict the artist reading, writing, and drawing on the walls, in a space filled with comfortable furniture, plants, and, of course, his artworks.
They furthermore indicated the artists' need for contemplation and solitude while in the creative process. As the exhibition shows, this takes different directions depending from one artist to another, from Matisse’s villa in the sunny South of France, or Miró’s studio in Palma de Mallorca, to the narrow studio in a side alley in Camden Town by Frank Auerbach.
The selection brings works by twelve modern and contemporary artists: Joan Miró (1893–1983), David Smith (1906–1965), Eduardo Chillida (1924–2002), Lucian Freud (1922–2011), Frank Auerbach (b. 1931), Paula Rego (b. 1935), David Hockney (b. 1937), José Antonio Suárez Londoño (b. 1955), David Dawson (b. 1960), Koushna Navabi (b. 1962), and Aleksandar Duravcevic (b. 1970).
They undertook different approaches to art-making on paper, a medium that has been central to numerous artistic experiments.
Since our every day has become attached to home in the previous two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, returning to these artists and their studios seems very empowering and underlines a brighter side of isolation. Although their rooms were not necessarily the only spaces where art was produced, they are valuable indicators that reflect the significance of the artistic process.
A specially commissioned film will accompany the exhibition, accessible on Ordovas' website, while the physical installation in London will occur as soon as circumstances allow.
Featured image: Eduardo Chillida in his studio, photographed by Jesús Uriarte, Hernani, circa 1990. All images courtesy Ordovas.