Michael Cox – The Art for Home Interview

“From some perspectives art is one of the most important elements of a space,” says interior designer Michael Cox of Foley&Cox.

“There are the basic elements of functionality, and space planning, and comfort, and things like that; but then once all of those elements are in place, the art is really the element that brings such a significant personal expression of someone’s personality and passions, what they want to project and communicate about themselves.”

Cox should know. Over the last twenty years he has created countless global luxury residential projects and launched foley&cox HOME in Hudson, New York. The first painting he ever bought still hangs over the fireplace in his country house–a sure sign of an enduring taste in art, and the skill of getting it right first time–an area in which he has interpreted the visons of his many clients around the world over the years.

“We’ve been so fortunate over the last two decades to have built relationships with clients from so many different generations, and each client brings a preconceived notion of what home means to them,” he tellls Artspace. “Ulltimately, our job as the interpreters of that, is how to incorporate those priorities into our interiors. After all, what’s a nicer aspect of the job I do than helping a client choose a piece of art?”

You can see many great examples of that in Michael’s new  Monacelli Press book Language of Home. To coincide with the launch of that book, he’s chosen some of his favorite works on Artspace that he thinks would complement any interior. But first of all,  what tips does he have for hanging the art you can buy on Artspace?


Brookline MA – photographed by Tim Line 

“Sometimes spaces that aren’t really thought of as rooms can become transformed into rooms by the placement of art. In a project we worked on in Massachusetts there was a wide long hallway and we ended up thinking about that, almost as a gallery space, and putting a collection there with a viewing bench, so that a passage space suddenly took on its own destination purpose and became a viewing gallery.”

“There have been scenarios where clients have brought pieces of less significant provenance but more personal connections. We can certainly make these work by grouping differing pieces on a wall together in a gallery style presentation. Suddenly the individual pieces become part of a very different story. And sometimes by putting important pieces in locations such as a powder room you can create a special unexpected moment where guests might walk in and go, ‘wow what is this doing here?'” Here are Michael’s choices.

 APRIL GORNIK – Rain, Storm and Light, 2017

“An incredibly dynamic client with an equally colorful and diverse art collection introduced us to April’s work years ago and we have been fans ever since.  The magic of her work appears below the surface – she seems to keep one hand on the brush, pencil, or camera and the other fully in touch with the true essence of earth and nature.  Her assessment of the world around us is a gracious reminder to turn away from technology, reconnect with our surroundings, and embrace the calm that only true connectivity can evoke.  I would love to live with this specific piece titled Rain, Storm, and Light in the bedroom of my country house hanging over a fireplace. Personally, the work feels like a visual daily meditation – a beautiful and centered way to begin a day.

AGNES MARTIN – Praise, 1976

I think this happy and optimistic pink print would be incredibly charming in a children’s playroom. The artist’s methodical line structure is an inspirational springboard for conversations about the road to true artistry, involving training, academics, and dedication to expression. As we consider the placement of art in a client’s home, we often chat about how unexpected locations can spark questions and curiosity and engage the lucky viewer in interactive discussions that truly define the value of great works of art.

TRACEY EMIN – My Heart Is Always With You, 2016 

Tracey’s work captured my attention during my first visit to London in 1997 when she was part of Charles Saatchi’s Sensation exhibition. Her aggressively expressive perspective captivated my young, easily influenced mind. Yet in some ways I feel my understanding and appreciation of her art has matured as she has grown as an artist. Words that stack to express thought and eventually build to become language have always been fascinating to me. Tracey’s neon creations somehow remind me of modern, compressed haikus and beneath the exclamation of the bright medium there is a poet that is a master of expressing raw truth through utter vulnerability.

CAIO FONSECA – Seven String Etching No. 6, 2001


A masterpiece from Fonseca deserves an audience, so I would give this artwork pride of place on a focal point wall in a living room or dining room. For me, the magic of this artist is his ability to paint music and unlike a static, un-played grand piano in the corner of a room, having one of his paintings or etchings displayed brings harmony and melody to the air. We were fortunate enough to install his modern, minimal work into a rather formal room in a traditional CT house and immediately the atmosphere was transformed with enthusiasm and energy – almost as if the home was transferring from one generation to the next.

JOHN BALDESSARI -Visionaire 64 Art | John Baldessari Blue Edition, 2014 

In 2002 I was lucky enough to begin working with a magnificent collector and the clarity of hindsight and two decades helped me realize that was my “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear” moment.  This patron of the arts has been generous enough to share pieces of her vast knowledge over the years and I’ve been fortunate to collaborate on placement of works throughout multiple residences. She was my first introduction to Baldessari and my appreciation of his work has continued to evolve.  I think this publication would be a magnificent “sculpture” and the living room cocktail table  – a sort of intellectual conversation starter.

Michael Cox of Foley & Cox

Visit the Artspace store to purchase all of the works Michael chose, and buy Language of Home at Phaidon.com Michael Cox will be in conversation with architect Douglas Wright, moderated by Michael Diaz-Griffith, on March 21 at Rizzoli Bookstore, New York. Register here. He’ll be signing books after the chat.



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