Other artworks, including paintings that my husband, David Miller, and I had acquired over the years, were carefully placed: a Jeff Koons gazing ball portrait of Bacchus and friends getting shit-faced; a controversial silver type painting by Glenn Ligon based on a Richard Pryor monologue; a pale bluish Josef Albers Homage to the Square that suddenly popped when installed against Neutra’s gray brickwork fireplace area. And next to the Albers we placed a wonderful Lucite bust of Venus made by the late photographer Herb Ritts’s father in 1983, a cherished possession that I have owned since the early 1990s.
My favorite odd couple turned out to be a 2014 Jamian Juliano-Villani painting of the infamous Alive plane crash juxtaposed with a German 1820s Globustisch, its mahogany globe balanced by a very chic, very fit Atlas. The combination felt bracing, odd, and strangely of the moment. Suddenly the house was developing a sense of whimsy and humor.
In many ways, the styling portion of the renovation felt like shopping at home. I’ve collected many things over the years, from far-flung places and historical eras, but they never really felt right together. I had been brainwashed by shelter magazines for decades: Never place something Victorian with something pure and modern. But that’s what we did here, with candlesticks, chairs, really everything. It was like a house of misfit toys. In a great midcentury home, the clean-lined architecture is usually the star. But what do stars need to shine? Quirky supporting characters.
The only object that shares the architecture’s 1950s vintage is a bronze male torso sculpture. It sits center stage on a 1975 table with splayed silver prong legs that we had lacquered black. But what is near it? What is it talking to like long-lost friends? A pair of Louis XV celestial and terrestrial globes, each one supported on a flaming garland and held aloft by an outstretched ormolu arm. The globes, to me, were a perfect and final touch—a reminder that the world keeps spinning forward, and no style ever stays in fashion forever.
Ryan Murphy’s home appears in AD’s March 2024 issue. Never miss an issue when you subscribe to AD.