The Function of the Posthumous Studio

David Eastwood
2013 Conference

Contemporary thinking about artists’ studios encompasses a broad range of contexts that challenge the studio’s traditional function, location, definition and relevance. In his essay ‘The Function of the Studio’ (1971), Daniel Buren claimed, ‘it is in the studio, and only in the studio, that… [the work of art] is closest to its own reality… It is therefore only in the studio that the work may be said to belong.’ According to Buren, works of art removed from the studio were ‘torn from their context, their “environment”, they had lost their meaning and died, to be reborn as forgeries.’ If the studio can be thought of as a vital missing context, can some aspect of the ‘reality of the work, its “truth”’, as Buren put it, be discovered within the studio?

The late-20th century discourse around post-studio practices coincides with the proliferation of a museological genre: the posthumously reconstructed studio. The aim of this paper is to consider the posthumously reconstructed studio as a phenomenon for contemporary art practice to engage with and investigate. Such studios are to be examined for their potential as “virtual” or “prosthetic” studios to be “re-activated” through practice-based research.

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About the author

David Eastwood is an artist who works primarily in drawing and painting, using the interior as a genre through which to construct composite images that reconfigure spatio-temporalities, re-evaluating relationships across historical periods and locations. He is currently investigating artists’ studios as sites of immersion and invention, with a particular focus on the re-contextualisation of studios as posthumously reconstructed museum artefacts. He is represented by Robin Gibson Gallery in Sydney and is a lecturer at UNSW Art & Design