AS A CHILD, New York artist Caio Fonseca stayed up late to watch the TV classic "The Honeymooners." Today, the 52-year-old painter lives and works in the show's former soundstage—a 7,000-square-foot East Village apartment rimmed with his own colorful canvases.

Mr. Fonseca is accustomed to living under a spotlight, as the son of Uruguayan sculptor Gonzalo Fonseca and painter Elizabeth Fonseca, whose family runs the philanthropic Kaplan Foundation. Mr. Fonseca's sister, Isabel, is married to author Martin Amis.

For his part, Mr. Fonseca has built an international reputation as a modern-day Joan Miró by painting abstracts that feature floating, geometric shapes. He's also known for using kitchen tools like pizza cutters to cover his drying canvases with tiny punctures. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art own his work.

His newest paintings, up now at Paul Kasmin Gallery, evoke a Tetris game on pause, their red and black shapes nestling together in jagged columns. His signature puncture marks are gone.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Fonseca took us through his home studio, which includes everything from his early-day still lifes painted in Spain to his concert-grand piano.

The room where I paint was where the set stood for "The Honeymooners." See that yellow dotted line on the floor? That's where the cameras would track. Most days, I practice piano in the mornings and I spend the rest of the day painting.

My uniform is sweatpants, so crusted over with dried paint that they're as hard as a table. I wear T-shirts that are also covered in paint, and Crocs.

I've lived in so many crappy studios throughout my life—my first place, in Barcelona, was so small I could barely fit the mattress in the room. Later on I lived in an abandoned pre-Columbian art museum in Uruguay, in the caretaker's room. It was exotic and wonderful, but kind of scary.

My 20s were spent in a room, alone, mixing paints and figuring it all out. In the hallway I've hung up a few of the hundreds of portraits and still lifes I painted when I was younger. When I see these works, they remind me of my youthful ideals.

I've had this place for about 12 years. When I first visited, there was a huge, 20-by-20-foot hole in the area that's become my kitchen, and there wasn't any running water—but I saw it had such a wonderful karmic feel to it. It's so peaceful.

In the bathroom, I've hung a photo of the town in Italy I go to, Pietrasanta. It was taken in 1920, but the town looks exactly the same now. It's a marble-working town half an hour from Lucca. My father was a sculptor, so that's how I got to know it so well.

I cannot live without my Mason & Hamlin piano. I started playing when I was 9, and Bach is still probably my favorite composer. Near the piano are some of my father's stone sculptures. He worked on Great Jones Street in Manhattan, and whenever he found a great stone headed for demolition, he'd call his two sons to come haul it to him.

In getting this space, I was able to put into practice all the dreams I had about a studio—room for all the flat files I could want, walls to hang work just to see how it looks from afar. I also designed my bed and had a fish-tank manufacturer make my bathtub.

In my studio, I always have near me a child's school chair I found on the street 25 years ago—when I'm painting low, I sit on it—and a chair I found in the garbage that feels 1940s high-design.

What's not in this room is anything decorative. I like it to feel like a utility room, a laboratory. I'm not into plush couches.

One of the paintings in my hallway I've screwed to the wall. It was in my grandmother's collection as a Rembrandt, but we got a letter from Amsterdam saying it was actually by an artist from the school of Rembrandt—so the family gave it to me.

My favorite artist for tonal painting is Velázquez.


When I have a creative block, I take walks. I like to see what shapes stick out—so many legs rushing by at once, it can seem abstract. I don't need to see great art to get stirred up. Music does that for me more easily.


If I could never paint again, I'd go headlong into music. Would I make a living? Probably not.

—Edited from an interview by Kelly Crow

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