22

The history of modern art records many artists who have thoroughly rearranged, reconstructed, or extended their studios; well-known examples include Gustave Moreau, Piet Mondriaan, Kurt Schwitters, and Constantin Brancusi, as well as contemporary figures such as Urs Fischer, Gregor Schneider, Bik van der Pol, and Jan De Cock. For the artists in question, the studio is not just a place for making art, but a practice in itself. In their studios, art is made and the making of art is itself given artistic form. They subject the studio space and its architectural framework to a variety of forms of rhetoric and iconography as they work on the construction, representation, and reflection of their own artistic identity.
In this talk we will look at the extent to which this extensive historical background can be employed as a reference framework for a critical analysis of the many museum reconstructions of (historical) artist's studios over recent decades and in particular of the striking reconstruction of Francis Bacon's studio at the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin. Bacon's studio was not only transported across the sea from London to Dublin, but was also only partly reconstructed. As an artist, moreover, Bacon had never regarded his own studio as a distinct artistic project, let alone as a space that should be preserved for history.
Alongside conceptual questions about original artistic intention and museological concerns about historical authenticity, this ambitious undertaking also raises, above all, a series of fascinating architectural issues.

Wouter Davidts lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium. He is Head of the Visual Arts Programme at Sint Lucas University College of Art and Design, Antwerp. He is the author of Bouwen voor de kunst? (A&S/books, 2006) and co-edited The Fall of the Studio (Valiz, 2009), CRACK: Koen van den Broek (Valiz, 2010), and Luc Deleu - T.O.P. office: Orban Space (Valiz, 2012). He curated Abstract USA 1958-1968. In the Galleries at the Rijksmuseum Twenthe in Enschede (2010) and Orban Space: Luc Deleu - T.O.P. office at Stroom Den Haag (2012).