One great way to leave the tourist trail if you are in another country and want to see interesting new areas of cities or towns is to chase up the homes and studios of artists that have opened up for public access. The most well known example in New Zealand would be the McCahon House in Auckland.
Once when we were in Kansas City we visited the home and studio of Thomas Hart Benton, the great muralist and teacher and mentor of Jackson Pollock. It felt as though Hart Benton had just left to do some errands. When we were up in the upstairs bedroom we opened his wardrobe and there were all his clothes still hanging neatly on a rail. Reaching into one of the pockets (afraid so) we even found an old tram ticket. The studio was even more unnerving with his last painting on the easel with a cloth thrown over it. Like everyone else, we lifted the cloth to see what was on the canvas. Some years later Julian Dashper made a video featuring this covered canvas in the same studio and no, we aren’t going to tell you what was there.
For an armchair version of looking in on how artists live you can check out the homes of artists including Marina Abramovic, Keith Haring, Jeff Koons, Julian Schnabel, John Ahearn , Georgia O’Keefe, Taylor Mead and Francis Bacon’s kitchen.
Image: Marina Abramovic (never shy to strike a pose) in the kitchen of her 2,500 square foot $1.5 million SoHo loft