a fascinating insight into the (mostly) secret lives of artists

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Photographer Stephen Shore was just 17 when, in 1965, he started hanging out and taking pictures at Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory. “For a while I went to the Factory every day,” he later recalled. “I would photograph different people as they passed.” With its walls painted silver and lined with foil, the Midtown Manhattan superstar artist’s studio was the place to see and be seen.

Camera in hand, Shore documented the amphetamine-fueled parties that were regularly held at the Factory, attended by the likes of “it girl” Edie Sedgwick and the Velvet Underground – with Warhol himself usually working in the background. “I guess it helped him in his job to have people around,” Shore said.

A selection of Shore images are on display alongside a recreation of a corner of the factory in A Century of the Artist’s Studio: 1920–2020, an extensive survey at the Whitechapel Gallery that explores the many functions that the studio has served for a range of modern and contemporary artists.

The original idea for the exhibition, proposed by art historians Dawn Ades and Giles Waterfield, was to focus on photographic portraits of artists in their studios. After Waterfield’s unexpected death in 2016, the Whitechapel continued the project but expanded its mandate. Selected by a jury of four curators, more than 100 artists were included, from big names such as Picasso and Pollock to lesser-known names.

The works exhibited freely cross time, place and medium. The first drawing in the exhibition, a drawing by Egon Schiele, depicts the artist’s makeshift workspace in an office in the Mühling POW camp in 1916. Exhibited nearby and painted last year, there’s an acrylic sketch by Tracey Emin of her rather better-appointed villa in the south of France – a happy hive of creative activity.

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