Where is the Studio of Jan de Cock?

Jon Wood

Le jour d'après, Jonas sortit très tôt. Il pleuvait. Quand il rentra, mouillé comme un champignon, il était chargé de planches. Chez lui, deux vieux amis, venus aux nouvelles, prenaient du café dans la grande pièce. 'Jonas change de manières. Il va peindre sur bois!' dirent-ils. Jonas souriait: 'Ce n'est pas cela. Mais je commence quelque chose de nouveau’. Il gagna le petit couloir qui desservait la salle de douches, les toilettes et la cuisine. Dans l'angle droit que faisaient les deux couloirs, il s'arrêta et considéra longuement les hauts murs qui s'élevaient jusqu'au plafond obscur. Il fallait un escabeau qu'il descendait chercher chez le concierge […]. A mi-hauteur des murs, il construisit un plancher pour obtenir une sorte de soupente étroite, quoique haute et profonde. A la fin de l'après-midi, tout était terminé.

Albert Camus, ‘Jonas ou L'Artiste au Travail’, 1957


Gilbert Jonas, the artist subject of Albert Camus' short story, "believed in his star”, fated like the biblical Jonah to be cast sacrificially into the sea and swallowed by a whale, before being returned safely to shore.[1] Camus' tale plots the gradual rise, fall and potential 'salvation' of Jonas as an artist and as a father. Juggling the demands of a successful career in the art world and the responsibilities of family life in a small, increasingly crowded apartment, Jonas' story is also a parable of time and space, which sees the gradual and simultaneous shrinking of living and working space as the story unfolds.[2] Having tried working in various rooms, experimented with different partitions, and having put up with the constant comings and goings of artists and critics, the painter turns carpenter-cum-architect and builds himself a wooden house-like retreat in the upper reaches of his apartment. Shunning the social engagements of the art world and committed to his work more than ever – despite his subsequent fall from popular favour – Jonas spends endless hours in the darkness of this self-built hideaway. This time allows him to reflect on his work and, subsequently, on his love for his wife and children, whom he can hear living below. Finally, having collapsed as a result of physical and mental exhaustion, Camus concludes his story with Jonas' architect friend Rateau looking at the canvas that the reclusive artist has been working on all this time. On it, in tiny letters, is written merely a word. It is not clear, we are told, whether it spells solitaire (solitary) or solidaire (interdependent).[3]


By the mid-twentieth century, the artist’s studio had become very well established as a stock subject in European literature.[4] Camus' short story, in which an artist is forced to build a private studio within the increasingly public space of his own studio-home, displays a subtle awareness of this tradition. Since Honoré de Balzac's Le chef d'oeuvre inconnu, which was first published in 1831, the artist's studio was increasingly presented as the unique and private site of creation and artistic production and as the site of individual artistic and imaginative endeavour shut off from the rest of the material world. Subsequently, as demonstrated by the success of Emile Zola's L'Oeuvre of 1886 and the tragic-comic downfall of his poverty-stricken sculptor Mahoudeau, a mythology of the studio of the individual sculptor, as opposed to just that of the painter, was also slowly coming into view.[5]


Although by the end of the nineteenth century the studio of the individual painter, free and independent from institutional ateliers (and often with combined living quarters), was a commonplace, the sculptor’s studio was still widely understood as the domain of master and praticien, of apprenticeship and divided labour. It was only in the first years of the twentieth century that the individual sculptor’s studio emerged into significance in the public domain. Two aspects of its construction and characterisation are noteworthy here: firstly, the critical appropriation of the model provided by the modern painter’s studio at this time, and secondly, the ‘spectral’ perpetration of the status of the master-sculptor in the master-studio – carried over even in the absence of apprentices and assistants. The sculptor's studio had for so many years been seen as a site of apprenticeship in the presence of a master-teacher, who stood as the figurehead for the production and achievement therein, that sculptors' studios retained this aura of the group atelier, whatever their scale, small or large. Through the huge literature surrounding Auguste Rodin, an image of the successful sculptor’s studio developed in the popular imagination in the late nineteenth and well into the twentieth century. It was this sculptor's studio that served as both the model and anti-model for the studios of sculptors such as Emile Antoine Bourdelle, Constantin Brancusi, Alberto Giacometti, Henri Laurens, Aristide Maillol, Charles Despiau and many others working in Paris and elsewhere. For all of these sculptors, this ambivalent status was important, making the studio a microcosmic/macrocosmic artistic environment. An atelier implied at once a site of particular, individual practice and also of general, collective resonance: the sculptor speaking for the people and taking on the heroic aura of avant-garde collectivity.


Looking back across the literary history of the subject in this period, the material conditions of the individual sculptor's studio emerge as an equally important part of the mythology. These were frequently characterised and caricatured in three main ways.[6] First, the studio was cast as a dark and dusty indoor realm (as opposed to the healthy, outdoor environment of plein air painting), entirely taken over by the working materials of the craft (plaster, clay, stone or wood). Since the sculptor didn’t need windows in order to look out onto represented views, the sculptor’s studio was often window-less or had its windows covered up and white-washed over, creating a highly inward-looking, contained and enclosed environment. This, in turn, had the effect of overwhelming visitors’ senses by providing not only a visual, but also a multi-sensory experience of sculptural process, since the materials could be smelled and felt in the damp and dusty studio. Second, the atmosphere of the studio was presented as having a melancholic, funerary, tragic and gothic character, something in part generated by the statuary and figurative sculpture that populated it. Sculptures thus appeared as ghostly actors, and the sculptor’s studio was cast as a stage for their spectral, uncanny performances. Third, the sculptor's studio was cast as the magical site of Pygmalionism, of the transformational 'coming to life' of the female figure (Galatea, in Ovid's account) through dream, reverie or prayer.[7] The popularity of this myth in late nineteenth-century French academic painting, and its pertinence as a conceptual device for the polite negotiation of the model’s nudity, is well known.[8] Its power, however, to transform the status and character of the sculptor’s studio, and to elevate it beyond its mundane workshop function to the realm of ideas, is less remarked upon. In this way, the sculptor's studio was seen as a timeless domain governed only by the laws of art, a lieu sacré of visionary creativity and the stage for an erotic drama in which the roles of the female model and statue were variously caught up and played out.


Camus' short story, which presents not only a painter but also an artisan, carpenter and architect, is an intriguing and much overlooked text within this studio literature. On the one hand, it satirises not only the post-war Parisian art world and its pressures and pretensions, but also the idea perpetuated there, of the artist's studio as a quasi-mystical site of isolated and individual artistic practice. On the other hand, it credits the studio as a space of reflection and transformation, of thought and resolution, where important lessons are learned and decisions reached. This is neatly summed up at the ambiguous end of the story, where Camus presents his character Jonas as advocating something of a riddle: either solitude and individual endeavour, or solidarity and mutually supportive togetherness. The answer to the existential conundrum presented is seemingly a reconciliation of both positions: that being an artist now requires a new, more complicated and combinatory relationship between art and life, between public and private realms, between individual and collective activity, between solitude and solidarity. For Camus, the artist’s studio is thus both rejected and accepted: it is still an important place, but represents only half of the story of an artist’s life and practice. The rest must happen elsewhere, beyond its walls, frames and limits.


Published in 1957, Camus' short story was an acutely timely contribution to the discourse of the artist's studio and to the realities of its practices. 1957 saw the death of Brancusi, one of Europe's most famously studio-based sculptors, and the bequest of the contents of his studio at 11 impasse Ronsin to the French state. With Jean Genet's L'Atelier d'Alberto Giacometti, this year also witnessed the publication of a monograph on (arguably) Europe's second most famouslt studio-orientated sculptor.[9] Twenty-five years lay between the births of these two sculptors and thus Camus' text appeared at a moment when a younger generation was taking over. (Indeed, Giacometti, though promoted first as a 'surrealist' then an 'existential' artist, was first trained as a sculptor under Bourdelle at his Grand Chaumière studio in the mid-1920s.) Moreover, Camus' text stands intriguingly, in its deliberate ambivalence, at the beginning of a period when the idea of the artist’s studio itself, and its relationship to the world outside its walls, was just starting to be profoundly rethought and reformulated. It seems poised, Janus-headed, looking back critically at the pre-war mystification and sanctification of the artist's studio, as well as looking ahead, in an anticipatory way, to the partial physical and intellectual evacuation of the studio in the following decade. In 1966, Alan Kaprow unambiguously outlined his anti-studio position in his ‘How to make a Happening’ text, declaring: "[t]he romance of the atelier, like that of the gallery and museum, will probably disappear in time. But meanwhile, the rest of the world has become endlessly available”.[10]And in 1971 Daniel Buren declared his "distrust of the studio and its simultaneously idealising and ossifying function" preferring to work beyond it, in the site of the artwork’s presentation and display.[11] Reading Camus' story today, there also seems something acutely contemporary about Jonas' radical gesture: it might remind us of a Paul Thek construction, a Siah Armajani room, a Mike Nelson log cabin, a Simon Starling rope trick, a Gregor Schneider loft conversion, a Paul McCarthy film set, a Rirkrit Tiravanija reconstructed lodging, or perhaps even a Jan de Cock Denkmal.


Jan de Cock is a sculptor for whom this rich, anxious and deeply contested tradition and legacy of the studio, and of the studio of the sculptor in particular, is profoundly important. Not unlike the traditional sculptor's studio, De Cock's Denkmäler are themselves well-crafted and well-staged sites of enclosure, performance and imagination and, as I will show, they owe much to the studio’s narratives, techniques and strategies. Akin to the traditional studio-artist relationship, a Denkmal is the result of the activities of the 'Atelier Jan de Cock' as much as it is by 'Jan de Cock' himself. Moreover, as the recent publication about his work and practice demonstrates, he is an artist who is clearly fascinated as much by the sculpture of Brancusi and Bourdelle, or Georges Vantongerloo and Donald Judd, as he is with the work of Dan Graham and Marcel Broodthaers.[12] The status and function of the studio has an interesting role within this duality. Of all the photographs of sculptures that figure in De Cock's recent book, Brancusi's Endless Column and Bourdelle's Hercules the Archer are two of the most prominent. Reproduced both inside and outside their respective studio settings and of different scales, the black and white photographs of both these sculptures remind us that the studio setting – the structure of containment and enclosure that envelops these works – actually also struggles to hold these sculptures. Although it frames and facilitates these sculptures' dynamics, the studio cannot really sustain or control them. Columns rise up vertically with a rhythmic rhomboid movement that will take them, Jack and the Beanstalk-like, through the studio's ceiling and into the clouds, linking heaven and earth. And bow bent to fire an arrow, Hercules the Archer is a work that not only dramatises its immediate spatial environment, but also implicates the space ahead in the archer's sights as an anticipatory part of the story. Both of these sculptures have become outdoor public monuments and, in turn, signature pieces, emblematic of the sculptors who made them. (De Cock's own fascination with Hercules the Archer might also, I think, stem from the legibility of his own initials, JDC, monogram-like within the armed anatomical composition of Bourdelle's sculpture).[13] These famous sculptures are thus works that bespeak both the studio setting and the departure from it.


The 'Atelier Jan de Cock', based at 15 Auguste Gevaertstraat in Brussels, can be read as an atelier haunted by some intriguing precursors. Its high level of craftsmanship and artisanal labour, skill and expertise places his work within a modernist tradition of the sculptor’s studio. But De Cock's ongoing Denkmal project articulates the sculptor’s studio as not only a place where sculptures are physically made and displayed, but as a complex site of convergence and dispersal for people, ideas, and things as well. As such it connects with the work and thinking of post-1960s artists such as Broodthaers, Graham, Buren and Michael Asher. We are thus faced with an unusual double-edged way of thinking and working. With Camus’s tale in mind, we also encounter a form of artistic reconciliation. The work of De Cock involves no less than a coming together of individual and collaborative practice, an artisanal workshop and a mobile mode of working, a nomadic approach to production and a site-specific mode of installation, and a complicated appropriation of private and public space, that temporarily collapses the space of the studio into the space of the art museum. In this essay, I ask the question ‘where is the studio of Jan de Cock?’ and trace the artistic and art historical co-ordinates of De Cock’s various ‘studio relocations’.


Is a studio really just a room with four walls? How can it be encountered or accessed by outsiders or people other than the artist? What happens to the studio when the artist leaves, or dies? Is it maintained in its original state as a monument to the artist and his practice, is it restored in situ or is it reconstructed and relocated elsewhere in closer proximity to an art museum? De Cock's Denkmal series displays a subtle awareness and sensitivity to the question of studio reconstruction, a topical museological question over recent decades. The studios of many modernist sculptors (some included in De Cock's image bank) have experienced different fates. What happens to their walls is crucial: it dictates what kind of reconstruction and what kind of accessibility and experience for the viewer or visitor is at stake. Visiting an artist's studio is generally felt to enable a view 'behind the scenes', an experiential insight into the artist’s work in its correct, originary context, prior to the post-studio spaces of the gallery or museum. Studios, especially reconstructed ones, are thus not only seen as the sites of production of art, but as prompts for a further comprehension of the artist’s work and persona as well. Some studios, like those of Henri Bouchard and Bourdelle, have kept their original walls intact and have been maintained as museums to their respective artists. Some, like Giacometti's at 46 rue Hippolyte-Maindron, have had their plaster walls removed altogether after the sculptor died. Since they were seen as so integral to his artistic and studio identity, they were redisplayed as works of art in their own right in 1978-79.[14] In some studios, like those of Maillol, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, certain rooms have received large single glass windows installed in the walls, enabling viewers to overlook the space in its original or reconstructed state, and to get a belated impression of the 'work in progress'. Other studios, like Renzo Piano's 1997 reconstruction of Brancusi's second, later studio at 11 impasse Ronsin, built right outside the Centre Georges Pompidou, have had their walls removed altogether and replaced by floor to ceiling glass. Visitors to L'Atelier Brancusi now come inside the building and walk around the studio (in a clockwise direction) looking in, through the glass, at the studio and its contents. They will never step over the threshold into the studio, neither be able to walk around the sculptures and grasp their carved scale through the spatial experience of the framing dimensions of the enclosing building. The Brancusi studio is now brighter and whiter than ever, opened up by a kind of democratic transparency. Dislocated from the fabric and contingencies of its previous cul-de-sac life off rue Vaugirard in the 15th arrondissement, it has become an artefact in itself – nonetheless offering an extremely elegant and judicious solution to a very difficult curatorial and museological problem.


De Cock's Denkmäler not only display a knowledge of the studio as a historical phenomenon, but also demonstrate a subtle awareness of its museological status and problematic posterity.[15] For De Cock the relationship between his artistic production and the art museum is an intimate one. "My work is site-specific, it cannot exist without the context of the museum”, Jan de Cock said to an interviewer in 2003.[16] By 'work' he could almost be talking about his studio. His declaration of interdependence is also a declaration of independence: evocative of artistic freedom, not of cultural subordination. Like Buren, De Cock transfers much of his physical work and practice into the art museum, transforming the latter into a temporary workshop.[17] But De Cock proceeds to build all around himself – like a hermit crab that builds its own shell within the one it has moved into. As he said recently: "the walls of my studio are for that moment – the moment of an exhibition – where I work. (…) Denkmal is a mould that is transportable elsewhere”.[18] The walls of the studio thus temporarily coincide with the internal walls of the museum, adding a new inner layer that both hides and highlights the original structure and its history. Jan de Cock's Denkmäler act as temporary ‘second skins’ and ‘sleeves’ within the larger and more permanent outer body and structure of the art museum, but they are also walled interventions into the curated, uncurated and frequented spaces of the art museum – De Cock initially named his works 'randschade' or 'collateral damage'.[19] They insinuate themselves into the fabric and politics of the place, taking part in and becoming part of its history.[20] The period of installation and habitation has even led some writers to cast the site and installation of a Denkmal more as a studio-home than a studio, bringing an added level of intimacy to the proceedings. Rather like Tomoko Takahashi's occupation of the Serpentine gallery during the making and installation of her recent show there, one critic noted that De Cock's Denkmal 2 at Manifesta 5 in Donostia-San Sebastian "may have doubled as the artist's crash pad" over its nine week installation period.[21]


In a sense, De Cock makes models: not small-scale models that people can look down on, peep into and around, but large-scale, life size models that people can walk around or into, and sometimes experience from the inside. The human scale of the Denkmäler is crucial to their efficacy. In a way they emerge as a contemporary blend of dada and constructivism – something like a cross between Kurt Schwitters' Hannover Merzbau (c. 1933) and Gerrit Rietveld's Schröderhouse (1924). They seem to rebuild Cor Van Eesteren and Theo Van Doesberg's Model for an Artist's House of 1923 on a large-scale, and outside-in or inside-out within the pre-existent architectural structures of an art museum. De Cock’s sculptures turn viewers into visitors by setting up and installing structures that surround, guide or lead them around the work. But what they actually are invited to visit, is a studio, albeit an abandoned one. For when the work is done and the artist and his team have left, a Denkmal never stops having been a studio. It will always be a site where things have been visibly and invisibly worked upon. Evidence of the studio is still everywhere: in the brand new immaculate and reflective surfaces, in the smell of recently cut fibreboard, in the immaculate ledges and levels, in the clean angles, neat joins and hidden screws, in the interlocking network of boxes, cabinets, compartments and units, in the new floors, corridors, doorways and shelves. Any Denkmal is haunted by its fabricators and their craftsmanship. This residue of studio energy and sculptural hospitality empowers it, grants it an ’inner power‘, to use a phrase dear to the artist. The studio is still everywhere, as a powerful material presence and reality. As such the work plays upon the material enveloping and encasement that, as I stated at the beginning of this essay, has traditionally been a characteristic of the sculptor's studio. Sculptors' studios have often acquired identities and reputations as places based on their material conditions and the practices that they accommodate. In this way, for example, we were presented with the whiteness of Rodin's studio (first promoted by Rainer Maria Rilke), the whiteness of Brancusi's studio (promoted by almost everyone from Tristan Tzara and Mina Loy to Margaret Anderson and Georges Duthuit) to the plaster dustiness of the studios of both Arp and Giacometti (celebrated by Genet).[22] De Cock follows in this modernist tradition with his characteristic use of fibreboard. He and his team work in large sheets of this man-made and synthetic material, like an ‘infinite stretcher’, from one Denkmal to the next. It has a neutrality, an industrially formatted and international character, that is not evocative of any particular national tradition or locally specific material culture. It also has a reflective skin that gives the fibreboard not only a glossy hardness, a sealed intactness and a shiny resilience, but also a marble-like translucency that seductively takes us into its inner material depths. Not unlike a museumised sculptor’s studio, De Cock’s Denkmäler harness a heightened, engaged, imaginative and historically alert kind of visitor attention. They serve as three-dimensional invitations, fibreboard gauntlets thrown down to challenge the gallery visitor to be on the look-out: everything is there to be looked at and into, to be discovered and detected, to be considered and contemplated. Like exhibited studios, you might say, De Cock’s Denkmäler make the audience captive.


In Randschade fig. 3 in the German city of Borken (2001), De Cock’s intervention took a powerfully archaeological turn: sections of flooring and ceiling were removed, exposing the cavities and foundations of the building. The 'collateral damage' of this Denkmal combined excavation with additive layering and gave the site-specificity of the installation an added poetry, depth and urgency. The site-specificity of each Denkmal is registered through the numbering system employed (which always reflects the street number of the host institution) but such excavation further adds to this dimension, reaching into the belly of the building. In choreographing such play, De Cock encourages the viewer not only to re-imagine spatial relations with the room, but also to re-consider the history, meaning and function of the place. What is a plinth, what is a pedestal? Might the whole gallery now in fact have become a plinth? Visitors are provided with an uncanny experience – an experience of a new order but also an awareness of the place underneath the reflective dry lining. This is a deliberate and acutely disorientating strategy: half welcoming and invitational, and half about setting traps and obstacles. Views are both afforded, restricted and made intentionally deceptive: it becomes difficult to judge the distances and spaces between fibreboard layers and to gauge the inner heights and depths of the Denkmäler. This experience inadvertently recalls the mood of a Giorgio de Chirico painting, with its unsettling technique of dépaysement. This painterly description is appropriate, since Jan de Cock clearly thinks through his Denkmäler as much in terms of images and scenes as he does in terms of three-dimensional, frequentable circuits. His comment that his works are “off-screen sculptures" confirms that what is at stake is always round the corner, just out of the frame, slightly hidden behind something else.[23] Asymmetry is crucial, and the complete story and overarching compositional strategy is always postponed and anticipated, offered up piece by piece (montage-like), and never fully revealed in its entirety.


The relationship between such compositional display strategies, and the ways in which the Denkmäler are accessed and viewed by visitors, is clearly intimately conceived and imagined by the artist. The extraordinary photographs by which De Cock documents all of his installations reveal that he evidently envisions his Denkmäler and their visitors as one. Since people make places, these staged installation photographs of people frequenting his Denkmäler are highly important and interpretative images, far more than the private documentation shots that they might, at first glance, seem to be. They bring about an image of the Denkmal as ‘activated’ or ‘at work’. Here again, De Cock's Denkmäler connect with the history of the sculptor’s studio. In the studio pictures of Brancusi or an artist such as Brassaï – for whom Paris itself, inside and out, by day and by night, became one large, highly photogenic film set – the studio emerged as a stage or set on which ambiguities, doublings and visual puns between statues and models, between inert material and living beings, between stasis and movement were played out.[24] In keeping with this, visitors to De Cock’s sculptures often feel watched, invigilated or under surveillance – the artist even likes his Denkmäler to be provided with security staff and gallery attendants. Likewise, the large Duratrans lightbox versions of some of these photographs are often incorporated in subsequent Denkmäler. They not only keep the sites on the move, or on a loop from one location to the next, but also openly perpetuate a mode of encounter and visitor interaction between subsequent Denkmäler. De Cock recently stated that visitors to his installations "become actors, become self-conscious of their own presence. They see their own mobility in relation to dead material”.[25] While this can clearly be seen in the work, there is another possible interpretation; such photographs also have the ability to cast gallery visitors into figurative sculptures – posed models, captured either in states of self-absorption or viewing their surroundings. They thus cast the Denkmäler into new relief, emphasising their status as staged enclosures and bringing greater attention to their forms and surfaces. This staged aspect of De Cock's colour installation photographs becomes more apparent when they are seen alongside his extraordinary wide angled, black and white Temps Mort photographs. These photographs depict figurative sculpture, situated both outdoors as public, monumental sculpture in urban settings, and indoors in the galleries and store rooms of European museum collections.[26] They bespeak De Cock’s delight in photographing figurative sculpture and juxtaposing sculptures with people, in ways that make the latter look like sculptures, and bring the former, in Pygmalion-like fashion, to life.


De Cock’s Denkmäler endeavour to create new and independent spaces for experience, thought, imagination and reflection, thereby revealing the studio as a place where all of these activities find their place and space. This was made strikingly clear in the photographs of Denkmal 9 at the Henry Van de Velde University library in Ghent in 2004. Library users make particularly good models and these photographs record them both still and in movement, catch them silently in the middle of reading, writing or thinking. Denkmal 9 deliberately tapped into the 'studio-studiolo' tradition, knowingly incorporating its 'slow time' atmosphere into the resulting photographs. De Cock's Denkmäler, like studio spaces, are cast as places of contemplation, conducted alone and in the company of others – solitaire and solidaire, to use Camus' terms.


Keeping his own workshop photographically under surveillance is something De Cock shares with other artists, such as Bruce Nauman and Graham Gussin, whose films, Mapping the Studio I (Fat Chance Cage) (2002) and photograph Studio (Dry Ice) (1997) respectively, playfully highlight the banality of studio life and send up the idea of the studio as a magical, mystical and otherworldly venue. For De Cock, however, studios are far from banal places and this comes across particularly strongly in the images of the making of his 2000 work Vertigo, or the Era of Free Catalogues, erected in the Felix Hap Park in Brussels. In his 2004 artist's book, De Cock printed twenty colour photographs of this structure being constructed (some of which include him at work) and then placed these photographs all on one page next to a large full page colour reproduction of Charles Mertens' canvas entitled The Painter's Workshop (1885), from the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent.[27] If any confirmation were needed, this double-page spread boldly makes the connection between De Cock's mobile studio and artist's studio. Indeed, in a very real sense, his idea of the studio can be discerned running subtly but powerfully through the series of photographs reproduced in this 2004 book. De Cock has called the book "a museum in itself", but perhaps more importantly it is a studio as well: an image bank, a scrapbook of ideas, mental notes, photographs and visual records.[28] If this is a studio, which I think ultimately it is, it is the first of many to come.





[1] Albert Camus, ‘Jonas ou L'Artiste au Travail', in L'Exil et Le Royaume (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1957), reprinted Paris: Harrap, 1981, pp. 103-42. English translation: "The following day Jonas went out very early. It was raining. When he returned, soaked to the skin, he was loaded down with planks. At home, two old friends, who had come to see how he was, were drinking coffee in the big room. 'Jonas is changing his technique. He's going to paint on wood!' they said. Jonas smiled: 'That's not it. But I am beginning something new’. He went into the little hall that led to the shower-room, the lavatory and the kitchen. In the right angle where the two halls joined, he stopped and studied at length the high walls that rose up to the dark ceiling. He needed a ladder, which he went down to get from the concierge […]. Halfway up the walls he built a floor to get a sort of narrow, but high and deep, loft. By the late afternoon, all was finished”.

[2] For a further account of this combinatory shrinking of space and proliferation of things, see Peter Dunwoodie, Camus: L'Envers et L'Endroit and L'Exil et Le Royaume, London: Grant and Cutler, pp. 57-62.

[3] Albert Camus, 'Jonas ou L'Artiste au Travail', p. 142.

[4] Oskar Bätschmann discusses the studio as a subject in nineteenth century French and German literature, but only in terms of the painter’s studio, using the examples of Balzac’s Chef-d’oeuvre inconnu, Hoffmann’s Die Jesuiterkirche in G. of 1817, and Zola’s L’Oeuvre, where he focuses on the studio of the painter protagonist Claude Lantier. See ‘The Cult of the Tragic Artist, Death and Suicide in the Studio’, in The Artist in the Modern World, The Conflict Between Market and Self-Expression, Cologne: DuMont, 1997, pp. 97-103. The example of Balzac’s Sarrasine (1830) should also not be neglected in its appropriation of Pygmalionism in the context of the sculptor’s studio: “It was more than a woman, it was a chef d’oeuvre. There were to be found in this unhoped-for creation, love to ravish all men, and beauty to satisfy a critic. Sarrasine devoured with his eyes the statue of Pygmalion, for him descended from the pedestal”. Honoré de Balzac, Scenes of Parisian Life, Ninth Volume House of Nucingen, La Princesse de Cadignan etc., London: The Lorraine Press, 1926, p. 235.

[5] Zola, L’Oeuvre, Paris: Fasquelle, 1978.

[6] The downfall of Zola's sculptor can also be read as an inscription of the traditional fate of sculpture, compared to that of painting, within the paragone. The visit to his sculptor’s studio by Claude and Sandoz is important and worth quoting at length since it perfectly illustrates the image of the sculptor's studio I am outlining here: “Ils s’engagèrent tout de suite dans la rue du Cherche-Midi. Le sculpteur Mahoudeau avait loué, à quelques pas du boulevard, la boutique d’une fruiterie tombée en faillite; et il s’y était installé, en se contenant de barbouiller les vitres d’une couche de craie.[...] La boutique, assez grande, était comme emplie par un tas d’argile, une Bacchante colossale, à demi renversée sur une roche. Les madriers qui la portaient, pliaient sous le poids de cette masse encore informe, où l’on ne distinguait que des seins de géante et des cuisses pareilles à des tours. De l’eau avait coulé, des baquets boueux traînaient, un gâchis de plâtre salissait tout un coin; tandis que, sur les planches de l’ancienne fruiterie restées en place, se débandaient quelques moulages d’antiques, que la poussière amassée lentement semblait ourler de cendre fine. Une humidité de buanderie, une odeur fade de glaise mouillée montait du sol. Et cette misère des ateliers de sculpteur, cette saleté du métier s’accusaient davantage, sous la clarté blafarde des vitres barbouillées de la devanture”. Zola, L’Oeuvre, pp. 82-83.

[7] For the story of Pygmalion, see Ovid, Metamorphosis. Book X. Lines 243-297.

[8] See Frances Borzello, 'The Model’s Status', in The Artist’s Model, London: Junction Books, 1982, pp. 65-85.

[9] Jean Genet, L'Atelier d'Alberto Giacometti (1957), Paris: L'Arbalète, 1995.

[10] Allan Kaprow, How to make a Happening, New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1966, p. 183.

[11] Daniel Buren, 'The Function of the Studio' (1971), in October: The First Decade, Cambridge, Mass. and London: MIT Press, 1986, p. 205.

[12] Jan De Cock. Denkmal ISBN 9080842419, Brussel: Atelier Jan De Cock, 2004.

[13] Jan de Cock also owns a remade plaster version of Brancusi's 1912 marble Muse, which sits on his desk in his Brussels studio.

[14] See Alberto Giacometti: Les murs de l'atelier et de la chambre du 46 Hippolyte-Maindron, Derrière le miroir, Paris: Galerie Maeght, 1979 and the catalogue essay 'Autre heure, autre traces…' by Michel Leiris.

[15] This he shares with other contemporary artists, such as Thomas Demand, Jason Rhoades, Mike Nelson, Liesbeth Bik and Jos Van der Pol, Richard Venlet or Job Koelewijn, whose Transported Studio (1994) and The World is My Oyster (1996) play out the anxious relationship between studio, gallery and the world beyond them both. For an excellent account of the work of Bik and Pol in relation to the idea of the studio, see Wouter Davidts, 'In the Peripheries of the Studio. The Early Works and Practice of Bik Van der Bol', in Liesbeth Bik and Jos Van Der Pol (eds), Bik Van Der Pol. With Love From the Kitchen, Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 2005, pp. 61-64. See also Jon Wood, 'The studio in the gallery?', in Suzanne MacLeod (ed), Reshaping Museum Space: Architecture, Design, Exhibitions, London: Routledge, 2005, pp. 158-69.

[16] Jan de Cock interviewed by Milovan Farronato, Tema Celeste, (November-December 2003): 88.

[17] His own Brussels studio, it should be said here, is a large space which not only accommodates offices, a kitchen and its own 'Bar Gevaert' for post-work socialising and conviviality, but also plenty of storage room and a two floor workshop, which also enables split-level viewing opportunities

[18] Jan de Cock in conversation with Monica Amor, Wouter Davidts, Kirstie Skinner, John Welchman and Jon Wood at Tate Modern, London, Friday 1st July 2005.

[19] Phrases used by Monica Amor and John Welchman in conversation with Jan De Cock at Tate Modern, London, Friday 1st July 2005. Initially Jan De Cock systematically titled each of his works Randschade, and there were 10 in total, numbered in order of production. Within Randschade fig. 7 in the Ghent Museum of Fine Arts, the artist used the term Denkmal for the first time, labelling the different sections of the installation. Since Denkmal 10 in De Appel in Amsterdam (2003), De Cock consistently uses Denkmal as the title for his works, followed by a signature number that correlates with the street address of te specific location.

[20] See Wouter Davidts’s analysis of Jan de Cock's work in the Brussels Palais des Beaux-Arts; Wouter Davidts, 'Travail de [vi]site: Jan de Cock and the Brussels Palais des Beaux-Arts', inJan De Cock. Denkmal ISBN 9080842419, pp. 5-18.

[21] Jordan Kantor, ‘Jan de Cock', Artforum, (January 2005): 152. See Rochelle Steiner 'Tomoko Takahashi' in exhibition catalogue Tomoko Takahashi, London: Serpentine Gallery, 22 Feb.-10 April 2005.

[22] For more on this, see Jon Wood, 'Brancusi's white studio', Sculpture Journal, VII (2002): 108-20 and Jon Wood, 'When we are no longer children: Brancusi's wooden sculpture c. 1913-25', in Carmen Giménez and Matthew Gale (eds), Constantin Brancusi: The Essence of Things, London: Tate, 2004, pp. 60-69.

[23] Jan de Cock in conversation with Monica Amor, Wouter Davidts, Kirstie Skinner, John Welchman and Jon Wood at Tate Modern, London, Friday 1st July 2005.

[24] For more on Brassaï and studio photography, see Jon Wood, 'Close Encounters: The Sculptor's Studio in the Age of the Camera' in Close Encounters: The Sculptor's Studio in the Age of the Camera, Leeds: Henry Moore Institute, 2001, pp. 8-27.

[25] Jordan Kantor, 'Jan de Cock', p. 152.

[26] Jan De Cock. Denkmal ISBN 9080842419, pp. 269-338.

[27] Jan De Cock. Denkmal ISBN 9080842419, pp. 248-249.

[28] Jan de Cock in conversation with Monica Amor, Wouter Davidts, Kirstie Skinner, John Welchman and Jon Wood at Tate Modern, London, Friday 1st July 2005.