Studios as exhibition spaces: Bacon and Brancusi

The Whitworth Art gallery in Manchester recently posted an article on two examples of artists studios transported and transformed into art spaces. Firstly Francis Bacon’s chaotic studio was mapped and moved to the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, whilst Constantin Brancusi’s Parisian studio was relocated to the Pompidou Centre.

The theme of the article is of particular interest and is worth expanding to integrate some of the main discussion points generated from our BAAD Space project.

The act of the translocation is clearly an artistic act in itself. However there is a pedagogic intention by opening up an otherwise private space to the public; so we can all take a glimpse of the place where creativity occurrs. Elizabeth Driver (the author of the article) rightly points out that studios are integral to the creative process but this manner of preservation removes the genuineness. The artefacts are the same, but the qualities of the space differ from the original, it’s context is different, the artist’s relationship with the space is void.

These two scenarios undoubtedly give a sense of pleasure and delight to the visiting public but it does not equate to a truthful account of the real creative process – artists are very much rooted in the space they work in. There are noticeable crossovers with the concept of post-studio – an approach the students have been investigating as part of the design for the BA Art & Design studios. Daniel Buren’s The Function of the Studio (1979) quotes:

“The work thus falls victim to a mortal paradox from which it cannot escape, since its purpose implies a progressive removal from its own reality, from its origin.”

For students in both disciplines, their work is very much in respect to outside of their studio. Which begs the question for what is their studio for then? There are some obvious pragmatic and administrative reasons but pedagogically, it highlights the challenge a fixed studio space generates. Should the space remain administrative, or should it employ a post-studio philosophy with more conviction…. and therefore be remote and transient?

Our affinity to attach ourselves to a place, material or space is unavoidable and even more so when we want time to reflect, conceptualise and create. Encouraging a more honest post-studio approach means a very different teaching mode, reliant on networks and collaborations, exchanges and places (quite literally). The Co.Lab students will be presenting their final proposal for the BAAD Space imminently which may actually suggest a closer attachment to a genuine place of creativity for the artists.

This is by no means a refined conclusion but more of a prompt for wider discussion. We will look to take the student’s findings further towards a realisable fabricated proposal. Read the original article here:

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