Have you ever dreamed of going back in time to encounter art history’s biggest names? Photographer Adrien Bloom has done the next best thing. For her series “Holding Space: Historic Homes Project,” she traveled to the former residences of famous writers and artists and imagines them in the privacy of their own homes, hard at work in the studio or just going about mundane household tasks.
“I come up with abstract narratives that pay homage to [the artists and writers] and their work and the home,” Bloom told Connecticut Magazine.
So far, Bloom has visited the house museums for Abstract Expressionist masters Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock, the great Victorian-era New York City photographer Alice Austen, Mark Twain, and Florence Griswold, who hosted the Old Lyme art colony in her Connecticut boarding house.
The results are atmospheric, at times eerie—a reflection of a bygone place and time. For her photo shoots, Bloom hires actors to move about the space, capturing the spirit of the great creators who once lived within those walls.
For Austen, the pioneering photographer born in 1866 who shot the first of her 8,000 images in 1884, that process included bringing in a second woman to play Gertrude Amelia Tate, her life companion. Austen and Tate lived together in a home on Staten Island, also known as Clear Comfort, until 1945, when they lost it to the bank. But Bloom’s images show the pair in happier times—despite their families’ opposition to their union.
The Pollock Krasner images, on the other hand, show the tension in the couple’s relationship, their lives at Springs in East Hampton constantly overshadowed by the dark cloud of Pollock’s alcoholism.
The series is a tribute to artistic greatness, but also speaks to the simple everyday lives of larger-than-life figures.
“These people have become legendary—godlike,” Bloom told Smithsonian Magazine. “But here is a bedroom with a tiny little bed, and this is their bathroom! It’s inspirational because they created wonderful work, but they were still just people.”
See more images from the series below.
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