Visiting the home of a great artist is like peeking into their soul
France: Jardins et Maison de Claude Monet, Giverny
Imagine standing in front of the idyllic old Japanese bridge from Claude Monet’s ‘Water Lily Pond ’, the subtle hues of blue and green from the painting coming alive right in front of your eyes. The French Impressionist master’s fairy tale home in the French Normandy town of Giverny is full of such out-of-body experiences. The artist lived here for 43 years towards the end of the 19th century. The main charm of the house lies in its two gardens. The first, a vivacious enclosure called the Clos Normand, is filled with a myriad variety of blooms, cypresses and oriental cherry trees. The other is a Japanese-themed water garden fed by a small tributary of the Seine. The artist picked shades of green and pastel pink for the house with shuttered windows, while the interiors were studded with Japanese woodblocks and engravings. Apart from the painter’s extensive collection of Impressionist classics, you’ll also find plenty of art from around the world. The best time to visit is from early spring to late summer.
Jardins et Maison de Claude Monet (Open from March 25 to November 1st 2016, 9:30 AM to 06:00 PM, Entry Fee: €9.50, giverny.org)
India: Jorasanko Thakur Bari, Kolkata
The sprawling, brick-red mansion of the revered Bengali entrepreneur Dwarkanath Tagore in Kolkata is almost like a centre of pilgrimage for art lovers from all over. It was here that his son Rabindranath Tagore was born and it was in this very house that he breathed his last. The building, which was home to the illustrious Tagore family from the late 18th century, with its dark green wooden shutters and surrounding gardens also served as the heart of the Bengali Renaissance. Jorasanko today houses the Rabindra Bharati University, but the building also has three galleries which offer an intimate glance into the life of the Nobel Laureate and his family. The university also holds a grand cultural programme every year on Panchise Baisakh to celebrate Tagore’s birthday.
Jorasanko Thakur Bari (Open from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, Entry Fee: Rs. 10, rbu.ac.in/museum/)
Belgium: Maison Van Gogh, Mons
Who’d have ever imagined that a tiny brick house in a melancholic mining town would witness the birth of one of the greatest artists of all time, Vincent Van Gogh? Located in the Walloon region of Belgium, Mons was a centre of heavy industry and mining during the Industrial Revolution. Vincent came to this town in 1878 as a Calvinist preacher and left in 1880 as Van Gogh, the artist. It was not long after his arrival that the compassionate Van Gogh became utterly overwhelmed by the miseries of the mining communities. He drew on this anguish to paint some of his most evocative paintings, such as ‘The Potato Eaters’. The house that he lived in had succumbed to the vagaries of time and had been reduced to ruins, before being restored from scratch by a group of activists in the Seventies. The exhibition here starts with an introduction at the entrance garden and continues into the little house eventually ending with an audio experience.
Maison Van Gogh (Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10AM to 4 PM, Entry fee: €4, maisonvangogh.mons.be)
Netherlands: Museum Het Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam
Kudos to the art enthusiasts who took it upon themselves to restore the building which was home to the legendary Dutch artist Rembrandt! The 17th century house, located in Jodenbreestraat, was bought by the artist in 1639 for Saskia, his wife and the love of his life. It was perhaps this purchase that led to the artist’s bankrupcy later on and eventually drove him to sell the property and auction his vast collection ofartefacts. With that very same auction inventory as a guide, the house was painstakingly revamped with furniture, art and objects from the 17th century. The museum also has an almost complete collection of Rembrandt’s etchings. The Rembrandt House Museum also exhibits works by contemporary artists who have been inspired by the work of the great master.
Museum Het Rembrandthuis (10 AM – 6 PM daily, Entry fee: €13,www.rembrandthuis.nl/en/)
USA: Pollock-Krasner House, New York
“My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting”, once said Jackson Pollock. The paint-splattered floor of this tiny homestead near East Hampton is a dazzling reminder of the unconventional techniques adopted by the master of abstract Expressionism. Overlooking the Accabonac Creek in The Springs, the painter bought this little house with a barn in 1945 with his wife, Lee Krasner, an abstract artist of repute herself. The artist converted the barn into a well-lit studio where he painted some of his most famous drip-paintngs. The barn studio later went on to be used by Krasner following Pollock’s sudden demise in a road accident. The house which also functions as a study centre and you can see the artists’ original supplies, solidified paint buckets and ‘Composition With Red Arc and Horses’, his only painting on permanent display.
Pollock-Krasner House (Open from May–October on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 1pm to 5pm, Entry fee: $5, sb.cc.stonybrook.edu/pkhouse)
Mexico: Museo Frida Kahlo, Mexico City
This lovely three-winged cobalt blue house in the charming suburb of Coyoacán in Mexico City was where one of the most notable artists of the 20th century, Frida Kahlo, was born. Known for her symbolic self-portraits, the artist lived with her husband, the famous painter and muralist Diego Riviera, in this house. Locally known as La Casa Azul (The Blue House) the house was converted into a museum in 1958. Today, it is one of the most visited museums in the world. The ten-room house remains in pretty much the same condition as it was when the couple lived here, adorned with Frida’s personal art collection, a large collection of pre-Hispanic artifacts, Mexican folk-art as well as photographs, postcards, letters and art work by other artists including Riviera.
Museo Frida Kahlo (Open from 10 am to 5:45 pm, Tuesday to Sunday, Wednesday opening time is 11 am, Entry fee: 80 pesos, www.museofridakahlo.org)