Design Matters

What curated art can do for a home

by Val Nehez
Posted 8/17/23

The home of an artist will always resonate with the considerations of a well-trained eye. 

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Design Matters

What curated art can do for a home


The home of an artist will always resonate with the considerations of a well-trained eye. 

Take the Italian artist Morandi, who spent much of his lifetime painting common household objects, bottles and ceramics next to each other. Morandi’s paintings are like Haiku in the weight of their simplicity. The balance of the shapes. The negative spaces between the objects, which are considered as much as the objects themselves. 

This is the experience of being in the home of an artist. All elements of the home are carefully considered in relation to everything else. Each color chosen is known intimately. Each piece hung on a wall or placed on a table has an origin story. Every day these objects are re-considered, and a small adjustment may be made or not made. Nothing is an accident.

It is difficult to overstate what art can do for the interior of a home. 

When I have the pleasure to visit the home of the artists Tom and Kiki Judd it is a moving and magical experience. Their home is filled with their own art. Given the volume of pieces that they have both made in their lifetimes, I imagine that what they have selected for their own home are pieces that move them mightily. They have both experienced an evolution of their art over time, and each piece in their home nods to periods of their work.

As would be expected, there is far more than what’s on their walls. For example, in their butler’s pantry, Tom applied layers of wallpaper remnants in a collage over all of the walls. Then the paper is torn off in places to reveal the raw patina of the plaster underneath. The plaster has an aged color (this may have been a trompe l'oeil painted by Tom. It wouldn’t surprise me and I don’t want to know…) 

The result is the blurring of history. It asks us “Was this left behind by the tastes of many years of the former homeowners?” Each layer has a story or mood culled from the lives lived in the house. A very small drawing of Kiki’s is framed and hung over the wallpapers, bringing us back to the home's current residents.

The living room has Tom’s copy of a Picasso. It is a ‘bang on’ reproduction, one of many he has done. I particularly enjoy this because I know Tom and know that it is his way of playfully both practicing his skill and respectfully dancing with the past, and interpretations of iconic work. 

I know that there are those who do not ‘see’ art. I know that there are people who are not moved by music or those who can’t be bothered to search out a baguette with the perfect eggshell crack to the crust. 

I have a wonderful, very young, very handsome and very wealthy client who teases me by saying he does ‘not get the whole Art thing”. He and his wife have two large empty homes that they themselves describe as “sterile”. They have asked me to work with them to find the things that give them pause, light them up, and resonate with them. 

We have yet to find said things. 

To assist this search I have often thought that music might be a bridge – that another form of human expression with the power to touch the soul could help illuminate the way. For this reason we’ve added an extensive playlist to our website. (Tom and Kiki play the ukulele and sing wonderful duets). 

I want my clients to have the experience of being moved by their home the way a person can be moved by a great song. That’s the way that Tom and Kiki’s house makes me feel. 

We are not there yet. But I’m willing to give a lifetime of trying.