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Out & About: A Century of the Artist’s Studio

The current exhibition at The Whitechapel Gallery is shining a spotlight on the forever intriguing artist’s studio. The exhibition features 100 artworks by 80 different artists.

The studio is a place of judgement free experimentation and creation; it is truly where the magic happens. ‘A Century of the Artist’s Studio’ is a window into the inner workings of modern icons from Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso and Egon Schiele to Andy Warhol, Louise Bourgeois and many more.

The studio of Francis Bacon, ‘luminous dabs blossoming across the walls’. Photograph: Perry Ogden © The Estate of Francis Bacon

These spaces are often small, chaotic and unremarkable rooms compared to the imagined worlds that are created within them. Every inch of the studio is covered with paint, materials and images of inspiration. Brushes, palettes thick with paint, empty coffee cups and cigarette butts are scattered around the space, revealing each artist’s particular tools for creation. It is fascinating to get a glimpse into these very personal and private spaces.

The exhibition itself is very inventive in its display, they have reconstructed some artist’s studios including Matisse’s bedroom and Kurt Schwitters’ dada studio which are both definitely worth seeing in person.

‘In command of her art’: Helen Frankenthaler in 1957, photographed by Gordon Parks. © The Gordon Parks Foundation

What I found particularly interesting was the contrast of seeing these artworks in their natural habitat compared to how we so often see them exhibited in pristine white cube gallery spaces. This exhibition shows how varied and versatile studios can be. It is a testament to how beautiful things can be created in the most unusual and unexpected locations.

Egon Schiele had set up his studio in a prisoner of war camp in Germany in 1916. Brancusi created work in a dark attic in Paris ten years later. During the Second World War Frida Kahlo painted from her sick bed. The show continues to take you through the ages with Picasso creating work in a French castle in the 1960s and Cindy Sherman in her Manhattan loft in the 1970s.

A recreation of Maud Lewis’s house in the 1920s. Whitechapel Gallery
Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (Painter), 2008. Collection of Charlotte and Herbert S. Wagner III. © Kerry James Marshall. Courtesy of the artist, David Zwirner London and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo: Steve Briggs.

The photo below shows a studio shared by several Iranian artists, the bowls of food looking very like bowls of paint. Studio spaces are often shared and many artists will continue working in a coworking space for most of their careers.

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian, From March to April... 2020 / Courtesy of the artists and Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, Dubai

At the Kit Kemp Design Studio we also feel inspired working alongside each other, the sharing of ideas, imagery and fabrics is key to developing our schemes for the hotels and residential projects. I wanted to share with you some images from our own studio to offer a glimpse into our own creative process…

We are currently working with some of our favourite artists over on Shop Kit Kemp in the Artists Corner and we are very excited to soon be sharing with you a peak into each of their studios too. Watch this space!

We would love to see inside your creative spaces, please tag us on Instagram using @kitkempdesignthread.

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