The artist's refuge

7 artist houses that will drive you crazy

When we think of an artist we think of a great personality, of somebody different, special, eccentric and unique. Somebody with a strange temperament, difficult to read, and with a unique and special sense of aesthetics. So when we try to imagine their homes, usually we think of houses with unique style and a bit of craziness in their looks. 

We all love to see inspiring homes and interiors, that make us dream of how we would love our houses to be. 

That’s why KOYAC has researched about how a house of an artist looks like, and has picked up for you seven houses that will definitely make you want to live there or, at least, spend a night.


Gabriel Orozco’s Observatory House

This house, a 1:1 replica of one of the srtructures that forms the Jantar Mantar astronomical observatory in Delhi, which Orozco visited in 1996, is located in a beautiful setting in the mexican pacific coast, specifically in Roca Blanca, Puerto Escondido, in the state of Oaxaca.

Conceived by the artist and designed by the architect Tatiana Bilbao, the house was thought from and for the outside, establishing a dialogue with the landscape, as the house turns to be operational also as a visual device within its natural environment. In fact, the convex section of the panoramic outdoor swimming pool determines a circulation of waves at its edges and all the views are always facing outwards. 

Projected from its higher spot, the swimming pool located in the roof, Orozco and Bilbao turned the relaxing area into an observatory. Actually, the presence of water in the centre of the house reveals a kind of mystic paradigm of the observatory’s spatial concept.

The rest is very simple, made with basically two raw materials, wood and concrete, housing two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen. All of the possible itineraries within the house drive us outdoors, to nature. 

Placed in a beautiful rocky promontory, the panoramic vision of the setting has determined mostly everything in the architectural project.

The artist's refuge

The artist's refuge

Donald Judd, 101 Spring Street

In 1968, artist Donald Judd purchased a five story cast-iron bulding that would become his NY residence and studio, designed by the architect Nicholas Whyte. This space would become the center of all of his career, since it is where he first developed the conception of permanent installation, centered on the belief that the placement of a work of art was as critical to its understanding as the work itself, which would continue to rule over all of his career. Judd identified the installation of 101 Spring Street as the source of permanent installation practice, spending a great deal of time placing the art and designing the whole renovation in accordance, including the furniture. Every object in 101 Spring Street had been carefully studied before being let inside, since it should have a unique presence but also find its place in the space. Nothing was gratuitous. 

Among the installation of all kind of museum quality decorative objects, art and furniture, we could find artworks of his own and also from artists he collected such as Dan Flavin, Claes Oldenburg, John Chamberlain, Frank Stella and Larry Bell. The furniture was designed by him but also combined with pieces designed by Alvar Aalto or Gerri Rietveld. Something very impressive was his collection of African sculptures, that would line the five story stairwell. 

Through his conception of permanent installation, which, as we said, started in this building, Judd gave importance to space. By focusing on how to place properly all of his possessions, all of what deserved to be seen and was worth looking at, he was making of space an interesting concept in itself. This space, 101 Spring Street, luckily remains the same and it is possible to visit when in New York. It is worth a visit.

Georgia O’Keeffe, Ghost Ranch

When Georgia O’Keeffe saw the 5.000 sqfoot Spanish colonial-era house in Abiquiu, overlooking the Chama river valley near to Santa Fe, New Mexico, she thought she had to have it. 

The house, acquired as a total ruin and which O’Keeffe restored slowly but completely, meant a great source of inspiration for the artist and her work, where she created some of her most celebrated works such as the cottonwood series or the paintings of Abiquiu mesa and the road of Santa Fe. The home itself and its views became her vision.

O’Keeffe’s main objective was always to distill her experience of the world around her to the essence. In the Ghost Ranch, she could develop her profound connection with nature, its forms and shapes, and translate it to her paintings. The solitude and raw beauty of the house and surroundings, represented to her a kind of freedom, bringing her closer to the essence she pursued. In the Ghost Ranch, O’Keeffe became a woman completely at ease with the world and herself, composing a life of zen-like simplicity. 

The U-shaped ranch made of adobe walls seems an extension of the earth itself, and its windows frame the incredible views of the cliffs and mesas which she painted so many times, in all of her moods and color and light ranges. The austerity of the interiors, its minimalist aesthetic, match the desert landscape. Nature is brought inside the house too, through a central patio filled with grey-green plants. The interior is also made of adobe, from the fireplaces to the walls, and the ceilings are made of the typical new mexican vigas. The rooms, decorated with found objects and functional furniture, breath harmony, thanks to the simplicity and attention to detail. 

The Ghost Ranch now functions as a educational conference center.

The artist's refuge

The artist's refuge

Ugo Rondinone, Nº 1 house

Ugo Rondinone's Nº1 house, built in 2014 by the architects Andreas Fuhrimann and Gabrielle Hächler, is located near Zurich, in Switzerland. 

The space was conceived by the artist as a living sculpture, using signature sculptural elements and systems of throughout the artists body of work to create a total work of art, but also as a perfect home and place to work. 

The two story building with clear Japanese influences mixed with European arts and crafts design is like a white canvas for Rondinone's works, with gallery-like walls and custom made furniture designed by the artist himself. The color palette is mostly neutral with pops of color such as the sculptural fireplace in the living room, a replica of Rondinone's work of art "John's fireplace". Also, the double height glass doors and windows, provides the whole house with abundance of light, which, apart from creating a very nice environment for living, is perfect for an artist studio. 

The structure is simple: in the upper floor it is placed the studio and bedrooms, and in the lower floor we find the common spaces. Two brightly colored staircases connect both levels. 

In terms of production, the house is constructed  with prefabricated wooden elements and untreated raw materials, letting the surroundings frame the building. Sitting on a slope against the road and a tiny river, the rectangular house's lightness reminds of the delicate Japanese buildings but with the modern touch of the custom build metal windows, a contemporary addition, that gives the house an hybrid sensation, between the traditional and industrial revolution.

Ugo Rondinone, Church

While walking around Harlem one day, Rondinone saw a romanesque church for sale. At that moment the artist was not thinking of investing in real-estate, but a week after he sold some of his properties in order to buy the stone facade church that had stolen his heart, with those immense staines glass windows and arched wooden double doors.  

At the time, the church was in the need of a total renovation, so Rondinone counted with the collaboration of the architect Alicia Balocco. 

In terms of distribution, Rondinone divided the church into work and living spaces, two guest apartments and five studios for visiting artists. The artist plans are to invite curators to organize shows  from time to time, and also to rent some studio spaces to emerging artists that find it difficult to start their career in a city such as NY. One day, the church will be open to the  public, but at the moments it is strictly his home and workplace. 

Apart from making art, Ugo Rondinone also collects it, so the ballroom-size living room, three stories tall and about half the square footage of the studio, hosts his approximately 200-piece collection and is furnished in a simple but very personal way. There is no need for lots of decoration, since the original space counts with three towering stained glass windows with decorative floral and geometric patterns and a rosette at the top of the center window. Some details that deserve to be highlighted are the ornate brass chandeliers, the rustic dining table with Franz West chairs and an opaque stained window designed by the artist Urs Fischer that pictures a shower, a toilet and a sink, placed in a wall of the bathroom.

The artist's refuge

The artist's refuge

Bosco Sodi, Casa Wabi

Casa Wabi, built and designed by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando, is one of the residences for artist Bosco Sodi, in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, in Mexico. It also hosts Casa Wabi Foundation, an arts charity established by the artist and directed by Patricia Martín, the curator of the biggest Latin American art private collection, the Jumex Collection.  

A 312 meter long concrete wall, west to east, following the coastline, provides the framework for the house and art centre creating a series of different rooms and zones. The wall creates an horizontal separation between public programs on the north side and private programs on the south side, generating as well a main circulation path serving as an interior and exterior wall at the same time. One of Ando's objectives when projected the wall was to achieve a beautiful reflection of the red and orange sunsets of the area on the concrete surface. It is important to know that Casa Wabi is named after the Japanese ideal of Wabi Sabi, which revolves around the beauty of life's imperfections, a very present idea in the work of both, Sodi and Ando.

The building mixes modern and traditional materials and techniques, putting the whole concrete structure in contrast with the roof, covered with layers of dried royal palm tree leaves, commonly used in the region. 

In terms of distribution, the largest space is occupied by a wide living room and a dining room, which are lead to the terrace where we can find two swimming pools, a long and narrow one for lengths and a triangular pool. Sodi's family occupies a pair of triangular spaces placed on one side of the living room, screened behind more concrete walls. 

Also, six freestanding residences, two studios, an exhibition space and several multipurpose spaces, among which we now can find a latest addition, the clay pavilion designed by the Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza, complete de project. To finish, a 67 acre botanical garden is supposed to host Casa Wabi's outdoors contemporary art collection.

David Hockney, West Coast House 

On the west coast, in the state of California, an ordinary brown ranch-style house placed against a wooded hillside would become David Hockney's home and workplace. With the artist obsession with sets and settings, the house looks would transform gradually thanks to an exotic color palette for each architectural element. In terms of structure, the house remained almost the same, with the only addition of three pyramid like apertures to light the studio and living room. 

The house is now all about color, seeming to fly away from conventional taste, since people usually don't dare to use such colors for their homes. Creating an environment of his very own, Hockney thought of the house as his particular set, as a large three dimensional picture in progress that keeps changing dramatically still today. Many changes are visible in just a few months, as if he was erasing and repainting an artwork constantly. His role as a stage designer is clear in this house. 

References to Hockney's works of art are everywhere, the colors of the house take inspiration from the musical piece "Parade" from Maurice Ravel's opera "L'enfant et les sortileges", the most colorful opera ever. He has devised the exotic palette for each architectural element, each room, one step at a time. The swimming pool is famously painted by the artist too, very colorful, and the snaking brick wall that wraps around the pool is also vivid, painted in bright red an white. From his believe in color as a way of helping the spirit, the whole house vibrates with color and activity, in which the living room is full with complete and work in progress paintings, reflecting the frenetic creative life of the artist. 

The only artwork acquired by the artist is a 1965 Picasso painting of artist and model, which occupies a wall in Hockney's bedroom.

The artist's refuge

You may also be interested in

Explore the vibrant art scene in Roma, Mexico City
Contemporary art - 23.10.19
Finding contemporary art in unexpected places
Contemporary art - 04.07.19

We request your permission to obtain statistics from your navigation through this website. If you stay on this website we understand that you accept the use of cookies. 

OK | More information