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artists in space

Art historian Svetlana Alpers traces the idea of the studio as a retreat from the world to early-Renaissance artist Piero della Francesca, painting his fresco cycle in the San Francesco basilica while on scaffolding. There, the artist—by necessity—created in isolation, literally above the masses. In late-twentieth-century Europe, the studio was a gathering place for artists in conversation, in apartments as ornately furnished and cluttered as any Victorian drawing room. Transplanted to America, the image of the great man alone in his large, empty warehouse dominated: Jackson Pollock in his barn is perhaps the prototype. Women in the studio mainly served as models, professor Mary Bergstein writes, "objectified as belonging to the artist's orbit of personal creations and possessions." More recently, Andy Warhol's Factory, postmodern critiques, and artist collectives have eroded the myth of the male genius working alone. In the 1970s, John Baldessari, who taught the legendary "Post-Studio Art" course at CalArts, quit traditional painting and said, "God forbid that it leaked out that [I] had a studio," demonstrating how outmoded the place had become. For today's transnational artist, writes art theorist Lane Relyea, the studio is little more than "a mailing address and a doorstep, thus providing the means for one to show up within the [global art] network."

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