The Artful Lodgers

John Currin and Rachel Feinstein
Photographer: Oberto Gili

The work an artist elects to put out into the world is one thing; the work that artist invites into his or her home is another entirely. Or is it? In their tantalizingly voyeuristic new book Artists Living With Art (Abrams), Stacey Goergen and Amanda Benchley deftly connect the dots between what artists like Cindy Sherman, Ugo Rondinone, and Mary Heilmann make and the work they collect. Goergen, an independent curator, was inspired after seeing an Old Master drawing next to a Francis Picabia pinup in John Currin and Rachel Feinstein’s apartment. “The juxtaposition gave me a whole new insight into John’s work,” she says. The book arrives at a time when the idea of art collection as investment portfolio is giving people pause. “When artists buy art, they are buying things they love or trading with friends,” Goergen says. “There’s a deep and very genuine connection.”

Photographer: Oberto Gili

Cindy Sherman In her own work, Sherman always appears alone. At her Manhattan penthouse apartment, however, she is surrounded by other artists. The rooms are filled with everything from Mike Kelley’s Double Flaccid Cat and Martin Kippenberger’s O’Preis to ceramics by Chris Garofalo and drawings by Margaret Lee (who is Sherman’s studio manager). She also collects voodoo art, outsider art, children’s toys… “Weird body parts, weird faces, weird hair portraits, weird characters, weird mixing up and mash-ups of the body” is how she sums it all up.

Sherman in her studio.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

Cindy Sherman’s eclectic collection includes works by John Hiltunen, Esther Pearl Watson, James Welling, Dana Schutz, Michele Abeles, Megan Whitmarsh, Martin Kippenberger, Mike Kelley, Chris Garofalo, and Ken Tisa.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

Betsy Berne’s Dong Song, 1996, and Otto Piene’s 2011 The Golden Idaho (from left), in her living room.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

Her bedroom are a drawing of houses by her studio manager, Margaret Lee, and works by Alexander Ross, Paulina Olowska, Charles Long, Wayne White, Bruce Lieberman, Martha Rich, M. Henry Jones, John Lurie, and Matthew Solomon.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

Olaf Breuning’s We Only Play Around, 2005.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

John Currin and Rachel Feinstein The couple’s loft is an exercise in theatricality, reflecting their respective artistic practices in more ways than one. Currin’s paintings are hung throughout, though, Feinstein says, they tend to regard them as “family snapshots.” (In the living room, a portrait of a bald woman, in fact, pays homage to their dog Chewy, who passed away.) “Every single one is a hallmark of what was happening at that time in our lives,” she adds, pointing out that when you live with a work, you enjoy a level of intimacy you could never achieve with something that hangs in a museum, no matter how many times you visit it. Feinstein may not look at the postcard-size Ludovico Carracci drawing she gave to Currin for his 40th birthday every day, “but every once in a while when I come home, I’ll just stand in front of it and see a lovely little interlude that I’d forgotten,” she says.

John Currin and Rachel Feinstein, in their New York loft with their puppy, Mr. Green Jeans, and Feinstein’s white sculpture Punch and Family, 2009.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

Currin’s Flora, 2010.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

The couple’s gilded Baroque-style bed plays off (from left) Currin’s Rachel Asleep, 2012, and The Dane, 2006.


Ugo Rondinone “It’s important for me to have art around,” says Rondinone, whose walls are hung with Cady Noland silk screens, Paul Thek etchings, a giant gray canvas by Peter Halley, as well as an assortment of nude drawings by the likes of John Currin, Karen Kilimnik, and John Copeland. “I consider artists a magical tool, so they empower me.” It’s fitting, then, that the grand 15,500-square-foot former church in Harlem Rondinone restored in 2011 serves not only as his home but also as his studio. (And it may also explain the Valentin Carron cross over his bed.) While Rondinone relies on other artists to fuel his spirit, he generously returns the favor, organizing critically acclaimed group exhibitions around the world and curating the storefront window of his former studio downtown with work by those he admires and collects.

Ugo Rondinone, in his studio in a converted church.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

A 2006 Valentin Carron cross and a montage of nudes, including works by John Currin, Karen Kilimnik, and Andy Warhol.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

Tauba Auerbach Like the “Fold” paintings for which the young San Francisco transplant became well known in the early 2000s, Auerbach’s New York apartment plays tricks on the eye. Packed with colorful works by young artists and kindred spirits like Josh Smith, Andy Coolquitt, and Alex Hubbard, as well as books, Memphis Design objects, and a collection of timepieces, the cheery fifth-floor walk-up appears much larger than it is. All the things you live with are “coordinate points,” she says. “You cultivate a certain state of mind by curating your space.”

Auerbach, in her bedroom cubby.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

Her living room with (from left) a painting by Josh Smith and Mary Manning’s sculpture Radicchio, 2012, placed on a lamp.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

In the kitchen are Andy Coolquitt’s light sculpture Hold On to Me, 2008, Kamau Amu Patton’s Topological Grid of Elevations With an Implicit Linear Surface, 2005, Alex Olson’s Plot, 2010, and a work by Fredrik Værslev (on the table).

Photographer: Oberto Gili

Marilyn Minter “I’m not interested in collecting realist paintings,” Minter says. “I like the things that I can’t do: sculpture, ceramics; things that are gestural, because I don’t have that mark.” And while she is a voracious collector—“even when I had no money, I bought art”—her house in New York’s Putnam County is very deliberately curated, with pairings of, say, a Michael Ballou–painted foam rabbit head with a Joyce Pensato rabbit charcoal drawing. “It’s much more important than saying, ‘I love this piece; let’s find a home for it,’ ” she insists. “We create moments here.”

Minter, with wallpaper of her own design and Sarah Sze’s Notepad, 2008.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

Ceramics by Takuro Kuwata, a Murano glass vase, Cady Noland’s Grenade Embedment, 1986 (all in the bookcase), Laurie Simmons’s The Love Doll/Day 27/Day 1 (New in Box), 2010 (at left), a Kueng Caputo stool, 2012 (supporting another Kuwata work), and a painting by Kenny Scharf, 2010.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

A Mary Heilmann club chair, a 2005 Sue Williams print, and Bing Wright’s wallpaper Silver on Mirror (For Ron), 2012.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

In the entrance hall, works by former students share company with Gerhard Richter’s Mao, 1968, and a 1970 collage by Nicholas Krushenick.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

Francesco Clemente “I don’t think I’m a collector,” insists Clemente, whose town house in New York’s Greenwich Village is elegantly punctuated by Oceanic sculpture, ceremonial statuary from India, and works by friends like Jean-Michel Basquiat (the two were neighbors in the 1980s and bonded over their shared dislikes) and Clemente’s “patron saints” Joseph Beuys and Cy Twombly. “In the first half of my life I had no money, so I made work inspired by all of the things I could not buy,” he says. Once he had the means, Clemente says, he felt almost a sense of duty to buy things that no one else liked, and to this day he is still attracted to rebels and underdogs. “Objects and friends are really how I get my education,” says the artist. “I have no interest in history; I am interested in human experience.”

Francesco Clemente, at his studio, with his Tree of Life, 2013.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

In the artist’s living room, a Joseph Beuys sculpture sits on a Frank Lloyd Wright table, above the mantel is Henry Fuseli’s Head of Satan, 1790, and in a corner stands a wooden sculpture from the South Pacific that is actually a drum.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s portrait of Clemente, a Christmas gift from Basquiat, hangs in the dining area.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

Mary Heilmann The artist Ross Bleckner calls Heilmann a “painter’s painter” and describes her works as containing “a joy so contagious, one smiles upon seeing them.” The same could be said of Heilmann’s circa-1910 farmhouse in Bridgehampton, New York. Most of the works on the walls were given to Heilmann as a gift or a trade from friends like Billy Sullivan, Marilyn Minter, and Jack Pierson. Like the titles of her artworks—The Kiss (Saturday Night), for example—the paintings, drawings, and sculptures often allude to Heilmann’s colorful days in the ’70s New York art scene. “You sort of sit and listen and think about the stories of the people who aren’t there anymore,” she says.

The artist outside her studio.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

Heilmann’s studio, with some her ceramic wall pieces and chairs of her design.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

the living room, with a large collage by John Waters, Billy Sullivan drawings (to the left of the window), and a Cory Arcangel road painting.

Photographer: Oberto Gili

Another view of the living room with Roy Fowler’s painting of a wave, a work by Don Christensen (top left), two oval canvases by Heilmann’s studio assistant, Sarah McDouglas Kohn, a disc painting by Paul Gabrielli, and two watercolors by Stephen Mueller.