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‘We Didn’t Call It Soho, It Was Just ‘Downtown’’: Bill Beckley Gives a Tour of His Apartment of 43 Years

Bill Beckley at home in Soho, under a wall painting by Sol LeWitt alongside Beckley's own Shoulder Blade (1978). Photo by Cameron Blaylock. COURTESY CURBED

Bill Beckley at home in Soho, under a wall painting by Sol LeWitt alongside Beckley’s own Shoulder Blade (1978).

CAMERON BLAYLOCK/VIA CURBED

Bill Beckley’s 3,000-square foot Soho loft is the subject of Curbed’s most recent “House Calls” feature, though, at the time the Conceptual artist moved into the space in 1972, there was no Soho—the Wooster Street apartment was located within the no-man’s-land known as “Downtown Manhattan.” “Building codes were lenient, police lackadaisical, and space—there was just so much space,” the  article says. Here are some things I learned about Bill Beckley today:

  • “There was no water, no walls, no toilet” when Beckley first moved into the space he now shares with his wife, the sculptor Laurie Johenning, and their two sons.
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  • This loft is only Beckley’s second New York residence; before moving to Wooster Street, he lived in a sailboat docked on City Island.
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  • Beckley sleeps underneath a signed gift from Andy Warhol. A Christmas card from his former student, Keith Haring, is displayed on a table year-round, and Louise Bourgeois’ limited edition rap album is tucked into a mirror.
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  • Beckley’s studio is “whitewashed from floor to ceiling” and is “surgically clean” in contrast to the rest of his apartment, which is compared to a scrapbook.
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  • Beckley bathes in a claw-foot tub.
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  • Beckley’s art collection seems to feature a plurality of LeWitts. A wall drawing by Sol LeWitt, traded for Beckley’s Elements of Romance, “betrays three decades of spilled drinks, rearranged furniture, and a philosophy towards art that is none too precious.”
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  • Beckley has a sense of irony—his 1975/1994 piece ‘Hot and Cold Faucets with Drain’ hangs over the kitchen sink.
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  • At least one of Beckley’s sons is an Adventure Time fan.

Read the photo-heavy feature in full here.

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