The Artist and the Modern Studio
July 31, 2015–January 3, 2016
Galleries 234 and 235


Artists have long turned to their own studio spaces as a subject for exploration. The artists presented in this exhibition create works that reflect the remarkably diverse approaches to representing the studio environment and the activities that take place there. The studio in the 20th and 21st centuries ranges from domestic interiors and white-walled sanctums where an artist retreats in solitude, to repurposed industrial spaces that serve as performance spaces. The subject of the studio is conceived not just as a representation of physical space but also of a metaphorical one for reflecting on identity, expressing notions of the artist as hero, jester, craftsman and teacher.

Drawn primarily from the Museum’s collection, The Artist and the Modern Studio highlights more than 30 American and European artists, with a concentration of works produced between 1960 and 1990. The display features a mix of media including prints, drawings, and photographs, as well as paintings and three-dimensional objects. From explorations on the theme of the artist and model by Pablo Picasso to conceptual performances by Kiki Smith, the works in this show evoke a range of associations about artistic activity—romantic, spiritual, practical, playful and confrontational.

A color lithograph by Ron Adams fits into a long tradition of depicting the interiors of printer’s workshops, while paying homage to the legendary postwar printmaker Robert Blackburn. Adams constructs a visual synthesis between the artist’s likeness, his work, and the studio in which he finds inspiration. Gerhard Richter turns to photography in order to stage a brooding examination of his studio space. In his serial work Six Photographs May 2–May 7, 1989, he superimposes multiple images of himself to suggest the passing of time in his empty warehouse studio. Other highlights of the exhibition include a still-life of pastels (rendered in pastel) by Wayne Thiebaud, a portrait of a craftsman and his tools by Jacob Lawrence, a trio of screen prints by Marilyn Minter, and an artist book by Sol LeWitt.