Studio Tours

Simon de Pury: Visiting 16 Studios of Los Angeles’s Top Artists

Los Angeles may boast the highest concentration of top artists living and working in one place. From Ed Ruscha to Sterling Ruby, Simon de Pury visited 16 artist studios there.

August is the month for vacations. Kids don’t have school, and in Europe several countries more or less shut down completely. Anyone who has ever tried to get a plumber in Paris at that time of the year will know what I mean. So even workaholics are best advised to take their holidays then.

This then brings the agonizing choice of a destination. If you live in London like me, you haven’t seen a ray of sunshine for weeks on end—and seeking the sun has to be a guiding consideration in your choice. St-Tropez, Bodrum, Ibiza, or Porto Cervo can provide you plenty of it, coupled with fun and excitement. But how many sleep-deprived nights are you prepared to spend in nightspots like Les Caves du Roy, Amnesia, or Billionaire? Your social life consists of seeing the friends you already see all year long, and when you return to work, you are usually so exhausted that you are ripe for another holiday!

So this summer, for the second year running, my wife, Michaela, and I decided to go to Los Angeles for our summer holiday. The trip is long, but when you get here, it gives you the best possible jet lag—the one where you instantly fall asleep when you go to bed and feel ready to conquer the world when you wake up early the next morning, charged with energy. The sun is not an issue: there is plenty of it every single day, and you won’t ever see a cloud. While it is very warm during the day, the air is dry, and I don’t sweat bullets the way I do even when I walk in slow motion in the Hamptons.

Los Angeles’s main attraction, though, is that the vibrant cultural life of the city doesn’t pause during summer. The museums—from MOCA to LACMA, the Getty, Norton Simon, the Broad foundation, the Huntington Library, and the Hammer—are world-class. The showstopper this summer is the Urs Fischer exhibition at MOCA and the Geffen Contemporary. Even our 2 1/2-year-old daughter, who normally does not relish being dragged from gallery to gallery, could not get enough of the clay figures that were done by 1,200 volunteers under the artist’s supervision. This exhibition is the last one done under Jeffrey Deitch’s directorship. (One can only be impressed by the variety and quality of the shows that were mounted under his stewardship. The exhibition Painting Factory at MoCA was the highlight of my last year’s summer vacation.)

L.A. arguably boasts today’s greatest concentration of top artists living and working in one place. Michaela and I set out to pursue our favorite occupation, which is to visit artists in their studios. So far we’ve visited 16 of them. This turned out to be so fascinating that I keep pushing back our date of return. As an avid Instagrammer, I have taken the opportunity to use my iPhone to take a full-frontal passport-type portrait of each artist using one of their works as a backdrop.