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The House of Art

Modern Residences of Artists as the Subject and Space of Creation

Andrzej Pieńkos

The term «house of art» designates the cultural phenomenon and creative mode in modernity associated with an artist’s residence as his own creation and as his product of a need to create which is unfulfilled in the painter’s, writer’s or composer’s actual field. This book discusses the most important of these creations from the 18 th century to the beginning of the 20 th , including gardens as well as the artist’s space, broadly understood, annexed by his imagination. An artist’s shaping of his own residence was most commonly a secondary area of his creative work. The formula for a «house of art» is specific to the particular artist and does not have to fit within any given architectural or decorative style. It may conform to the traditions of a residence (artist’s palace, cottage etc), but most often it forms an individual case.


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Chapter 8: Life amidst nature as creation. An artist’s cottage


In an essay written in 1931, Hermann Hesse reminisced about the life he and his wife had led in the village of Gaienhofen on Lake Constance in 1904: “We at- tempted in this peasant cottage a simple, candid, natural country kind of life, un- metropolitan, unfashionable. The ideas and ideals we pursued derived as much from Ruskin and Morris as from Tolstoy”.548 The ideal of a creator’s cottage was at the peak of its glory at that time; yet living this ideal was already proving a disap- pointment to Hesse. The experience he gained in the community of Monte Verità in Ascona, which was trying to employ this ideal in real life, prompted him to finally abandon the attempt, although the cottage in which he and his wife were living was not even a radical realisation of this ideal. The cottage of William Heinesen stood at the very edge of the civilised world, on one of the Faroe islands. This was in every way a  perfect seclusion place; Heinesen, a local man writing in Danish, availed himself of it until the 1930s in order to create literary texts, which are still considered masterpieces of modern Scandinavian literature, and an unusual piece of visual art.549 At that time the “art- ist’s cottage” was already considered a thing of the past – a phenomenon deemed incompatible with a serious approach to creativity and associated with the age of Symbolism and with an anachronistic stylisation of custom and behaviour. This does not mean,...

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