Created Space: A Case for John Ashbery’s Chelsea Apartment

Chelsea: Ashbery’s domestic environment is an organic, mutable living-quarters-cum-laboratory. Office.

“In 1891, after nearly thirteen years of construction and seemingly endless modifications, Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church’s 250-acre Persian-fantasy estate, Olana, was finally completed. From the very beginning, Church conceived and composed Olana as if it were one of his paintings, designing ornamental stencils and furniture, selecting a precise color scheme, carefully overseeing the acquisition of every decorative object, and orchestrating the surrounding landscape into controlled vistas. … Much like Olana, poet John Ashbery’s domestic environments—consisting of his house in Hudson, New York, and his apartment in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City—are stand-alone works of art conceived and composed with the same level of conscious artistry that informs his poetry. For Ashbery, the domestic urge, the operation of homebuilding, operates in tandem with the work that is conventionally recognized as his creative output. An understanding of the one thereby becomes essential to an understanding of the other. Time and place, however porous, are crucial elements in Ashbery’s writing. His domestic environment is an organic, mutable living-quarters-cum-laboratory where all decisions—such as adding or removing objects from the space—are ministrations to the creative process. … And because it is often overlooked, because in many ways it requires a greater intellectual leap of faith, and because its deceptively understated appearance speaks volumes, the particularities of the Chelsea space as a facilitator of Ashbery’s poetry—and, importantly, as the setting for his daily life—warrant a closer look. Some facts: In 1972, John Ashbery moved into a tall, post-war building on the edges of the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan. But this first apartment was not to be his final destination within this building, for two years later, in 1974, he moved to a unit on a higher floor, located in the rear. …”
Rain Taxi

Chelsea: The glass is a permeable membrane, the site of a truce between the flux of life outside and the controlled experience within. Living room.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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