Words by Susan Gough Henly
From Sydney, to Europe and the US – touring the creative sanctuaries of famed painters provides a window into their genius.
Start your journey at Brett Whiteley’s studio in Surry Hills, Sydney – a warehouse he converted into his home, studio and exhibition space and where he lived from 1987 until he died in 1992. See unfinished paintings, art equipment, furniture, photographs and his graffiti wall covered with quotes and images – not to mention his great record collection. The gallery has revolving exhibits of his paintings, sculptures and drawings and you can take drawing classes in the studio.
Jump on a plane to France to view Monet’s house, gardens and studio in Giverny. The founder of Impressionism, Claude Monet lived and worked in Giverny for 40 years until his death in 1926. When you explore his green-shuttered pink house with its yellow dining room and blue kitchen (and his exquisite Clos Normand and Japanese waterlily gardens) you’ll discover that this giant of French painters lived how he painted and painted how he lived.
Next, stop over at Cezanne’s studio in Aix en Provence. Cezanne spent the last four years of his life (until 1906) in this light-filled studio outside Aix en Provence. You can still see the objects from famous still life pictures, his furniture and painting materials. While on the nearby Chemin de la Marguerite on Lauves’ hill, you’ll discover reproductions of some of his finest Mont Sainte-Victoire paintings on the very site where he worked.
While in Europe, visit Salvador Dali House-Museum in Portlligat, Spain. Dali’s house and studio sit facing the rocks and the sea in a tiny seaside village in Spain’s Costa Brava. The roof is adorned with silver heads of Castor and Pollux that refer to Dali and his older brother, also called Salvador, who died young. A guide takes you through the three distinct parts of the retreat. There’s the private living area, including Dali and his wife Gala’s boudoir, with separate crimson beds and Gala’s womb-like pink retreat; the outdoor courtyard with its phallic swimming pool; and the artist’s studio where he created his surrealist paintings.
Fly across the pond to the US to get a glimpse of Winslow Homer’s studio in Prouts Neck, Maine. The renowned American landscape painter lived in a simple wooden house on the coast, north of Portland. Take a trip by van from the Portland Museum of Art to visit his home and explore the coastline, which looks the same as when he lived here from 1883 to 1910. Admire the pine wainscoting, his fishing tackle, and the upstairs verandah where he watched the wild seas that inspired so many of his paintings.
Journey south to the Pollock-Krasner House in East Hampton, New York. See the outline of Blue Poles, one of the most controversial acquisitions by the Australian government, in Jackson Pollock’s studio which overlooks bucolic Accabonac Harbor. You can also explore the cedar-shingled homestead that the leader of the Abstract Expressionist movement bought in 1945 with his artist-wife Lee Krasner. At the nearby Springs General Store, see a replica of one of the paintings he exchanged for groceries.