Artist Ugo Rondinone Turns Abandoned Harlem Church Bought for $2.2 Million Into Loft Mansion

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Ugo Rondinone at his Harlem space.
Photo: Courtesy Jason Schmidt/ W Magazine.
Ugo Rondinone's Harlem space.
Photo: Courtesy Jason Schmidt/ W Magazine.
An original Urs Fischer work in one of the artist's bathroom.
Photo: Courtesy Jason Schmidt/ W Magazine.
Ugo Rondinone's Harlem space.
Photo: Courtesy Jason Schmidt/ W Magazine.
Ugo Rondinone's Harlem space.
Photo: Courtesy Jason Schmidt/ W Magazine.
Ugo Rondinone's Harlem space.
Photo: Courtesy Jason Schmidt/ W Magazine.

Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone makes art, collects it, and curates it, which is why his other passion, real estate, helps bring it all together under one roof. The 50-year-old artist, who owns a studio space in NoHo, country homes in upstate New York and Switzerland, and a cottage on Long Island, recently purchased and gut renovated an abandoned church in Harlem, according to W Magazine.

The 20,000 square foot abandoned church built in 1887 and designed by architect Henry Franklin Kilburn, was in bad shape when Rondinone bought it, which is why he proceeded with an estimated $2 million renovation which escalated into $4 million. A hefty price tag (the purchase price was $2.2 million), but one the artist reportedly does not regret. Rondinone worked with architect Alicia Balocco to turn the decrepit church into a bonafide artist-project work space and living space, including two guest apartments and five studios for visiting artists.

Boasting ceilings that could house the artist’s 20-foot-tall bluestone figures, sculptures he showed last year at Rockefeller Center with the Public Art Fund, Rondinone’s quirky space also houses some of his 200-piece art collection. Among the mentionables is an original Urs Fischer stained glass window that mirrors his bathroom; the artwork depicts a toilet, sink, and shower. In the living room, one can find a pink rubber phallus by Sarah Lucas, drawings by Paul Thek, a canvas by Peter Halley, a cannon by Valentin Carron, and several silk screens by the enigmatic Cady Noland.

The artist’s future plans include inviting curators to organize shows, which will be open to the public, as well as lending his studio spaces to artists who cannot afford one of their own.

See also The Inner Happiness of Ugo Rondinone’s Performing Clowns. And for more artnet News stories about real estate and art, see Are Skyrocketing Taxes Running Dealers Out of Chelsea? and Aby Rosen Pays $55 Million for Gilded Age Building Artist Jay Maisel Bought for $102,000 Around 1966.


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