In the fall of 2013 the Museum Villa Stuck presents – as an anniversary project - the exhibition »In the Temple of the Self: The Artist’s Residence as a Total Work of Art.« An exemplary artist’s residence, the Stuck villa is not just the supreme expression of »artist prince« Franz von Stuck’s life-as-total-work-of-art, but also his most splendid artwork. It is the culmination of his aspirations for a unification of all the arts. To Stuck himself the ancient-looking villa was both cosmos and personal pantheon, an embodiment of his self and a colourfully blazing source of inspiration for his work. Thus it epitomises everything that an artist’s residence can accomplish, transcending mere representation and image cultivation.
As treasure troves of creativity, artist’s residences reflect the spiritual worlds of their creators. For the first time in this exhibition, the type of artist’s residence that is designed and built by the artist – or at least created with essential input from the artist – is examined in an international context. Some 20 examples bring to life the fascination such materialised artist’s fantasies continue to exert on people to this very day. For all their individuality, the selected examples in Europe and America epitomise ideas, styles and eras on the respective continents in the period from 1800 to 1948. Within international exchange, as well as within the competition between the individual artists, their residences play a significant role and each rank among their creators’ most important works.
As a reflection of the artist’s aura or charisma, the artist’s residence has been a visible symbol of the profession and an expression of that artist’s claim to social prominence and success. The 19th century saw a revival of the myth of the artist as incarnation of the Renaissance ideal of the universal artist; the genius cult paying homage to the creative genius. The artist’s residence is an expression of the artist’s personality, his or her second skin, as it were. As an architectural self-portrait, an unconsciously styled image of the self and an essential expression of human nature, it is representative of the artist, being a related image and a construction of the artist’s self.
At the same time, however, it serves numerous purposes and satisfies various needs - as house, studio and creative place, artistic experiment, inspiration and décor, artwork. It serves as gallery and »showroom«, becoming a temple, sanctuary, museum, premature cenotaph and mausoleum. More often than not it is enveloped in an intriguing – and magically charismatic – shroud of mystery, of the extraordinary and outlandish. The exhibition presents both famous existing artist’s residences and projects that, though nowadays lost, destroyed and forgotten, were uniquely important in their time and continue to exude a fascinating aura to this very day. Selected works by the artists that are closely linked to their residences, as well as photographs, drawings and models, convey vivid impressions of the blending of art and life and the harmony of the arts that is reflected in the historical term of the gesamtkunstwerk as it was understood by Richard Wagner.
Among the artist’s residences included are the John Soane’s Museum in London,
the Red House of William Morris in Bexleyheath, the Tiffany House of Louis Comfort Tiffany in New
York City, Mortimer Menpes’s residence in London, the villa of Fernand Khnopff in Brussels, Kurt
Schwitters’s MERZbau in Hanover, the house of Konstantin Melnikov in Moscow, Theo van Doesburg’s
maison in Meudon-Val-Fleury near Paris and the residence of Max Ernst in Sedona, Arizona.
An exhibition of the Museum Villa Stuck; curated by Margot Th. Brandlhuber