Learn How to Make Art from George Condo, Mickalene Thomas, Rashid Johnson, and More
In the new book Open Studio, contemporary artists share step-by-step guides to creating works inspired by their styles
When Sharon Coplan Hurowitz and Amanda Benchley began conceptualizing Open Studio (Phaidon) three years ago, their first thought was to develop a children’s book. “Then we realized how ambitious we wanted it to be,” recalls Hurowitz. Indeed, the pair ended up assembling a formidable group of 17 leading contemporary artists—among them George Condo, Marina Abramović, Mickalene Thomas, and Rashid Johnson—all of whom granted the authors exclusive access to their studios and devised original art projects that could be completed at home in under 30 minutes.
Illustrated with step-by-step photos, these mini master classes offer personal insight from the talents on how they achieve their signature techniques. The Haas Brothers, for instance, guide readers through the construction of Beada Kahlo, a miniature cup with a crisscross pattern composed of just string and tiny glass beads. Will Cotton took a fanciful approach, fashioning a whimsical sugary crown using rock candy and lollipops. And for Mouth of the Amazon, Maya Lin affixed scores of metal pins to a foam-core board to realize a stunning wall installation tracing the path of the South American river.
Some projects even come with special inserts that are designed to be torn out and used as part of the artwork, such as Condo’s paint-by-number page or patterned collage sheets from Thomas. “This is a window into understanding these artists and their sources of inspiration,” says Benchley. “We wanted to make sure that it was really accessible.”
As with many things, the pandemic shifted the team’s expectations. “Before COVID, we weren’t sure of the kind of support and engagement there would be, but now it’s reassuring to see fundamentally that people need to create,” reflects Hurowitz. “It’s an important part of our DNA.”
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2020 Winter issue under the headline “Studio Audience.” Subscribe to the magazine.