Life is strange. In a previous incarnation, before I embraced ceramics, I founded and ran an agency for artists. One of them, Graham Percy, was a very talented illustrator , who, as well as illustrating a myriad of children’s books, had a serious and cerebral side to his work. WE became very good friends. He devised and illustrated a book titled Arthouse, which was an imagined collection of houses and rooms as if they had been created and lived in by famous artists. The book was a delight and copies are still available through the magic of the internet. Sadly, Graham died in 2008 but his magic lives on. Here is a review of the book from the New York Times when first published
Imagine paying a visit to a house where every room and furnishing is dedicated to an artist from the 15th century to our day and rendered in his particular style. You may at first be taken aback by the "Mailbox and Garden for Christo," all wrapped in cloth and bound with rope, but you'll be happy to await your host in the "Hallway for Georgia O'Keeffe" among huge, pulpy white, yellow and pink flowers. Perhaps you'll be asked to sit and watch the Cubist "Couch and TV for Pablo Picasso," but if you have to go directly to "A Guest Room for El Lissitsky," don't panic. The decor may be too geometric for your taste -- rectangles, circles and planes of all kinds in white, red, orange, black and brown -- but the room is very functional. ARTHOUSE (Chronicle, $16.95) is the invention of Graham Percy, an illustrator who was born in New Zealand and now lives in London. It is an imaginary residence built on centuries of Western art, a place where eyes and mind come to play, a source of cheerful wonder. Is it a personal pantheon in which "A Children's Room for Giorgio de Chirico" (somber and architectural) and "A Window Box for Henri Rousseau" (where a lion sits under leafy plants) are homages to the masters Mr. Percy venerates? Did he instead, after years of respect, decide to take revenge, poke fun and devise a bathroom with a tiny toilet, a little dog and three white balls in a wooden box for Joseph Cornell, or a dollhouse built with Brillo boxes for Andy Warhol? After several visits to "Arthouse," Mr. Percy's intentions cease to matter much. From his sunny arrangement of oranges in "A Refrigerator for Paul Cezanne" to the lonely potted plants facing a desolate lawn in "A Back Porch With Cacti for Edward Hopper," the glow of Mr. Percy's love of art and life makes you want to come back.