Art House

August 16
Saturday 2pm
(US/2014/Writer/Director Don Freeman)
In Person: Filmmaker Don Freeman
$15 general admission / $12 for Byrdcliffe members…The Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild is proud to sponsor this important documentary because of its own placement in the history of great artist-made houses in the U.S.
ART HOUSE traces the trajectory of the American artist-designed home from its 19th-century roots, exploring houses created by 12 artists from diverse disciplines, including White Pines in the Byrdcliffe Art Colony in Woodstock, NY and Olana, Frederic Edwin Church’s Persian-inspired home in Hudson, NY.
Some artists don’t just create masterpieces — they live in them. In his film, photographer and filmmaker Don Freeman explores the handmade homes created and lived in by a dozen distinguished American artists, shedding light on a unique architectural typology characterized by a D.I.Y. aesthetic, the appropriation of building techniques from art practice, and a fierce spirit of individual expression that deserves deeper examination in this age of architectural standardization.
Art House traces the trajectory of the American artist-designed home from its 19th-century roots, exploring houses created by 12 artists from diverse disciplines. The film reveals the inventiveness derived from the dialogue between each artist’s practice and the construction of their handmade homes. The film begins with Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church’s Persian-inspired masterpiece Olana (1872), continues with Henry Chapman Mercer’s Fonthill (1909) and the Arts and Crafts colony Byrdcliffe (1903), ending with perhaps the most extreme example, Eliphante (1979), a structure made entirely out of found objects. Commentary from cultural critic Alastair Gordon and a haunting score help to evoke the spiritual dimension of the locations and argue the case that the intuitive vision of artists can create great architecture.
Each of the private domains featured in Art House is deeply imbued with the unique vision of its creator, and a physical embodiment of what it means to be an artist, to live an integrated life dedicated to art. For the most part the artists were not architects, and built over a lifetime (Henry Varnum Poor’s Crow House, Wharton Esherick, Maverick artist Raoul Hague) giving each place a sense of resonance and duration that most architecture doesn’t possess. George Nakashima and Paolo Soleri, who did train as architects, gave precedence to a craft-based approach to building their houses.
The fate of many of the houses in the film remains in the balance, for example that of Eliphante and Raoul Hague’s home, to name just the most urgent cases. Even the handful of houses that have been awarded National Historic Landmark status, such as White Pines at Byrdcliffe, would benefit from conservation efforts that often come at a high price tag.
Don Freeman is an American photographer and filmmaker renowned for the painterly quality of his still lifes and architectural work. His rendering of interiors bathed in natural light have been widely published in UK’s The World of Interiors, Elle Décor and Architectural Digest. Freeman is the author of Artists’ Handmade Houses (Abrams, 2011), which inspired the creation of the film.

 Freeman notes, “It’s my hope that the dissemination of this film will bring awareness to these houses so that the public will support and experience them in person.”

unrated / 90 mins
tickets online from Byrdcliffe
Read Byrdcliffe notes