“The Art of Living”

by Nalina


Photographer Barbel Miebach visited twenty-five artists and designers living throughout the country, photographed their homes, and documented her work in this elegant book. Each house inside is bristling with individuality, energized by the vision of its owner. Taken together they suggest that inhabiting one’s place, nesting, is an act of personal expression.

Just as some people look like their dogs, some artists look like their homes. That is, their homes seem like direct translations of their work. Designer Randolph Duke lives in a stone and glass house in the Hollywood Hills whose sumptuous, modernist furnishings reflect the sleek glamor of his clothing. Artist Andre Serrano lives in a Manhattan triplex furnished with historical European religious art that’s an extension of his dark, moody photographs. Other artists have shaped more surprising environments for themselves. Painter Ellsworth Kelly lives in a house in upstate New York filled with American, African and Asian antiques that are at odds with the cool minimalism of his canvases. Artist Andrea Zittel, whose mobile home and clothing designs have a downtown, urban edge, lives in a sparsely-furnished house in the Mojave desert.

This book asks us to express ourselves, and our tastes, whole-heartedly as we design our homes. Designer Hunt Slonem, who lives in an extravagantly furnished nineteenth century manor house in Hudson County, New York, declares: “Why should I practice restraint if the world is full of wonderful things?” Since what each of us finds wonderful, and beautiful, is deeply personal, it only follows that our homes ought to reflect our fantasies and idiosyncrasies. Why bother following someone else’s fashions?

Barbel Miebach, The Art of Living. New York: Monacelli Press, 2009.

Explore other stories