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SIMPLY STATED : A Minimalist Studio for a Maximum Artist

February 07, 1988|SAM HALL KAPLAN | Sam Hall Kaplan is The Times' design critic.

IN VENICE, COLLABORATIONS between artists and architects have produced a wealth of unexpected singular structures. The latest of note is the recently completed studio of artist Ed Moses. Designed by architect Steven Ehrlich, it is a minimalist structure, stately yet simple, strong but modest.

"I definitely didn't want something conspicuous," says Moses, who is known internationally for his abstract compositions. "I wanted something I would feel comfortable in--something Hawaiian-style--but which, of course, had some magic in it."

What Ehrlich provided on the Palms Boulevard site was a proud barn of a building, clad in rough-hewn plywood, consciously detailed with plain wood battens and topped by a gable roof and a raised longitudinal cupola. Painted what Moses calls a "nature green," it is landscaped with banana trees, bamboo and other exotic plants.

Inside, a wall-to-wall wooden truss system supports the roof and cupola, and transoms that face east and west open to the sky, providing plenty of cross ventilation and natural light. The result is dramatic, particularly when the walls are hung with his assertive art works--Moses uses the room mostly for viewing and storage; he paints outside behind the studio.

Moses and Ehrlich both consider the studio very much a collaboration in which both subdued their egos. "The act of architecture is an artistic response to the client's need," says Ehrlich. "With this in mind, I kept the building utilitarian, yet, I think, elegant. It is as much about what is not there as what is there."

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