Six American Artists’ Homes to Visit This Summer

From the Edward Hopper House to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, it's fascinating to see where and how art was made.

There is something magical, or sometimes shockingly revealing, about the experience of visiting the home of a favorite artist. Such a visit not only provides context into their inspiration but can also lay bare an artist’s process—how he or she accomplished the work we most admire.

Don’t assume such journeys are solely for dedicated admirers of a specific artist’s works, however. On its website, the Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios program (HAHS), a coalition of 55 museums that were the homes and working studios of American artists, suggests there are several reasons beyond fandom to make the trip. For instance, visiting artists’ homes lets one learn “something of the pragmatic requirements of art” and “the hard work of the hand and the head that goes on when art is made.” More importantly, visiting an artist’s home allows one to discern a relationship between the artist, their art and their environment.

And what beautiful environments they are. With their keen appreciation of aesthetics, artists so often come from (or put down roots) in locales with vistas that are a treat for the eyes. They also are frequently collectors of art and antiquities, filling their homes with a museum’s worth of lovely things. Visiting the artists’ residences featured below is a multifaceted experience—one that can feed a lifelong fan’s soul or awaken a new appreciation for an artist’s work.

The Edward Hopper House Museum

The journey begins on the East Coast, twenty miles north of New York City in Nyack, in the home where American realist painter and printmaker Edward Hopper (1882-1967) was born. Hopper is credited with defining a distinctly American style of figurative painting that captured a sense of isolation and loneliness in both rural and urban settings.

The Queen Anne style home, located not far from Hopper’s city apartment and studio at 3 Washington Square North where he lived for most of his adult life, stayed in the family until after Hopper’s death, when it fell into disrepair. In recognition of the artist’s stature and his enduring popularity, the Hopper House became a non-profit art center in 1971 after being fully restored, and it is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Open to the general public year-round on Thursday through Sunday or by appointment on Monday through Wednesday, the site hosts a varied program of cultural events and exhibitions and offers visitors an opportunity to see the view of the Hudson River that the young Hopper captured in his earliest drawings and paintings.

A painting of a diner at night
Edward Hopper’s ‘Nighthawks,’ 1942. The Art Institute of Chicago


A large brick house set behind some trees
The Olana State Historic Site. Photo: Peter Aaron/OTTO

Next, head west toward Greenport and the historic family home and studio of Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), one of the premier landscape painters of the nineteenth century. Church was among those rare artists who achieved international fame, critical acclaim and great financial success in their own lifetime. He studied with another great American artist, Thomas Cole (1801-1848) in Catskill, New York, then established a studio in New York City, from which he traveled widely on sketching expeditions. The resulting monumental canvases linked American identity to the landscape of the nation.

In 1860, Church settled his family in a mansion in the Hudson River Valley that he and wife Isabel later named Olana. He then spent the next forty years designing all aspects of the sprawling 250-acre landscape. Today, Olana Mansion and the surrounding grounds is one of the most intact artist-designed properties in the United States. Instead of painting the landscape, Church turned the landscape, including the structures on it, into a standalone work of art. In fact, Olana is considered by many to be one of Church’s greatest artistic masterpieces.

A landscape painting
‘New England Scenery,’ 1851. Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Massachusetts


An artist's space filled with statues and tools
Chesterwood’s studio interior. Photo: Daderot

From there, plan a visit to the home and studio of sculptor Daniel Chester French (1850-1931) in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, which is a popular destination for artists and art lovers alike. French is one of the most prominent American sculptors of the late 19th and early 20th century, best known for his historically significant yet classical figurative sculptures like the Concord Minute Man (1874) statue on display in Concord, Massachusetts and the monumental 1920 sculpture of Abraham Lincoln at the entrance of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

In 1896, French bought 150 acres of farmland in the far western corner of Massachusetts where he collaborated with his friend and architect Henry Bacon to design and build a summer estate and studio. The site, at the heart of the Berkshires, was a refuge from the New York City summer heat for French and his family and became a busy gathering place for the sculptors’ clients and friends. The house, an elegant Georgian Revival and the studio are surrounded by beautifully maintained gardens that are open to the public from late May through to the end of October. Inside, visitors can see an extensive collection of the sculptor’s work, preparatory drawings and models used by French, as well as regular sculpture exhibitions by contemporary artists.

A sepia toned photo of an artist working in his studio
Daniel Chester French in his New York Studio in 1889. Department of Image Collections, National Gallery of Art Library

Grant Wood Studio

While art lovers can certainly spend an entire summer visiting notable American artists’ homes and studios in the New York and New England regions, consider a trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This is where Grant Wood (1891-1942), the midwestern American Regionalist best known for his iconic dual portrait ‘American Gothic’ (1930), lived, worked and created many of his most famous paintings.

Wood had an interest in architecture and design that is discernible in the Arts and Crafts style of the interior of the combined home and studio he occupied from 1924 through 1935. The artist actually lived rent-free at the carriage house in return for doing carpentry work for a local mortuary and modified it himself, turning it into his ideal studio. The space itself is small, but the Cedar Rapids Art Museum—which houses the largest Grant Wood collection in the U.S. and operates Grant Wood Studio—is just three blocks away.

Grant Wood’s famous ‘American Gothic’. This work is in the public domain.

The Georgia O’Keeffe Home and Studio

Paints and brushes in front of a rugged landscape.
Painting materials displayed at the O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, NM. Photo: Scotwriter21

Moving south and west from Cedar Rapids to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in New Mexico is an eye-opening experience, geographically, psychologically and aesthetically. The sophisticated O’Keeffe was a feminist and wife of famous photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who helped launch her career when New York was becoming the center of the art world. But O’Keeffe lost her heart to New Mexico after seeing the rugged, parched vistas that became some of her favorite subjects to paint and sketch, and her sharply observed southwestern landscapes (along with her abstractions of flowers) helped define the modernist movement in American art.

O’Keeffe built a home and studio in Santa Fe along with a second compound fifty-two miles north in Abiquiú. She initially traveled back and forth between New York City and New Mexico, but ultimately her move to the southwest became permanent. O’Keeffe died in 1986 at the age of 99 in her beloved home in Santa Fe—now the site of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Beyond a trip to the museum, visitors can book a special tour of Georgia O’Keeffe’s Abiquiú home and studio with her former companion and secretary, Agapita “Pita” Lopez. Three generations of Lopez’s family have worked for O’Keeffe and cared for her Abiquiú property, and he provides an intimate, personal look into the iconic artist’s life.

An up-close painting of a flower
‘Red Canna,’ 1923 by Georgia O’Keefe on display at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

The Maloof House

A large home with many roofs in front of a mountain vista
The home of Sam Maloof, world-renowned woodworker, contemporary furniture craftsman and MacArthur Fellow. Courtesy Maloof House

The last stop on this excursion is the beautiful Maloof House in the foothills of California’s San Gabriel Mountains. Sam Maloof (1916-2009) was the first craftsman to be awarded a MacArthur “genius” Grant and is acknowledged as one of the finest woodworkers of our time. As a leader of the California modern arts movement, he designed and produced furniture infused with an austere mid-century craftsmanship for more than half a century until his death at 93.

The combination home and studio he shared with his wife, Alfreda—who was an artist in her own right—is unique. The sprawling property, which grew organically through the 1980s as the couple designed and added 16 rooms to the original house, appears as a tumbled pile of children’s blocks, with the various roof angles of the rooms and workshops pointed in every direction. The interior details of each structure were built by hand and include a striking carved spiral staircase,  organically curving wood latches, gates that bring to mind bamboo and stunning architectural embellishments. Not surprisingly, art collected by the couple complements each room.

A wood and leather settee
A walnut and leather settee, crafted by Maloof in 1969, on display at the Oakland Museum of California. Photo by Jim Heaphy.


Six American Artists’ Homes to Visit This Summer