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Drawn Together: Artists in Love

  • 6 min read

This week we released two new panoramic prints by kozyndan, our favourite husband-and-wife artistic collaboration, which got us thinking about other creative and romantic duos. The history of art features many passionate and creative personalities, sometimes when their paths cross two artists can find the perfect alchemy for shared love and studio space.

The creative pairings of monumental artists have often been epic love stories. Here are a few of our favourite arty couples…

Kozyndan

Kozy and Dan met in a university painting class in Orange County and soon moved in together. “The first piece we did together was when Kozy had been drawing our apartment and I liked it so much I coloured it in, “ explains Dan, “We also had rabbits, so they became our only life models around the house.” Ever since the adorable couple have been collaborating, each work becoming “bookmarks in our life together as a couple and as collaborating artists, and document (for us at least) the changes in attitudes and hopes and our world view” (Dan).

Georgia O’Keeffe & Alfred Stieglitz

Between 1915 and 1946, some 25,000 letters were exchanged between two major 20th century artists, painter Georgia O’Keeffe and photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Their remarkable correspondence (sometimes they sent 2 or 3 letters a day) tracks their relationship from acquaintances to admirers, lovers to man and wife, and exasperated, but still together, long-married couple. When they met in 1916, he was 52 and a famous, internationally acclaimed photographer, with an avant-garde gallery in Manhattan. She, on the other hand, was 28 and unknown. O'Keeffe become a famous artist thanks in large part to Steiglitz's promotion of her work.

Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera

The High Museum of Art currently are currently showing an exhibition, ‘Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics, and Painting,’ of possibly the most infamous couple in the history of art. Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo are known world-wide for their contributions to the evolution of art. The dynamic duo are also known, not only for their talent and vision, but for their dramatic and stormy love affair. The couple were married for nearly 25 years and had a passionate and turbulent union. Frida Kahlo once said, “I suffered two grave accidents in my life. One in which a streetcar knocked me down… The other accident is Diego.” Despite dramatic bouts of jealousy and anger, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s love proved enduring.

Robert Motherwell & Helen Frankenthaler

After American Abstract artist Helen Frankenthaler and Clement Greenberg separated amicably in 1955, Frankenthaler married Abstract Expressionist Robert Motherwell. They moved to the Upper East Side and quickly became the art world power couple. Their summer spent at the artists’ colony at Provincetown, Massachusetts, in 1962, inspired both artists to create abstract works of the coastline. Their shared home, bursting with an art collection including Mark Rothko’s, was an art fan’s dream. The two incredibly successful artists divorced in 1971, however, and Frankenthaler refuses to discuss the marriage.

Barbara Hepworth & Ben Nicholson

English sculptor Barbara Hepworth married painter Ben Nicholson in November 1938 at Hampstead Registry Office. After having triplets together the couple divorced, but their marriage was a mutually inspiring union of two of the giants of British Modernism.

Gilbert & George

The hallmark of English conceptual artists, Gilbert and George is an intensely collaborative work, depending intrinsically on mutual interplay and frequently incorporating their own images. Gilbert and George have lived their lives as an enigmatic and controversial double act since they first met at St Martin’s Art School in 1967. The Turner Prize winning duo entered into a civil partnership in 2008, however, they said at the time this was prmimarily to do with the pratical business of protecting the others interests if one of them were to die. In truth, even their friend and biographer, the late Daniel Farson, couldn’t quite grasp the nature of their relationship, “frankly, I have no idea what goes on.”

Lee Miller & Man Ray

In 1929, American Lee Miller travelled to Paris with the intention of apprenticing herself to the surrealist artist and photographer Man Ray. Although, at first, he insisted that he did not take students, Miller soon became his photographic assistant, as well as lover and muse. The creative duo were active participants in the surrealist movement and rediscovered the photographic technique solarisation. Throughout her life, Miller did very little to promote her own photographic work, but she is now widely respected for her contributions in the field.

Copyright & Gemma Compton

Contemporary street artist Copyright, and his partner, painter Gemma Compton, put together an entire exhibition of collaborative works in a celebration of their forthcoming marriage. Both artists in their own right, their collaborative pieces showcase their two distinctive styles. Evidence of their mutually inspiring creative union can be found on the streets, in large scale urban art works. Copyright says, “… not only is Gemma a lovely person, she is one of the best freehand sketchers around… an amazing draftswoman, illustrator and creative talent, Gemma is the best.”

Jackson Pollock & Lee Krasner

Artist Lee Krasner met Jackson Pollock when she took part in an exhibition in 1941 to demonstrate that American art was now equal in stature to European art. She responded immediately to Pollock's work, believing that he was “a living force”. Unfortunately, however, Krasner's growing admiration for Pollock's work and immersion in his career proved initially debilitating for her own art. In October 1945, the couple married and moved to what is now known as the Pollock-Krasner House and Studio, on Long Island, New York. Their move away together from New York City turned out to be artistically rewarding and the influence of Pollock was important in the development of Krasner’s mature style. Their relationship was often turbulent and Krasner struggled with the public's reception of her identity; both as a woman and as the wife of Pollock. As a result, she often signed her works with the genderless initials "L.K." instead of her more recognizable full name.

Auguste Rodin & Camille Claudel

French sculptor and graphic artist Camille Claudel started working in sculptor Auguste Rodin’s workshop in around 1884. She soon became a source of inspiration, his model, his confident and lover and the two artists shared a tumultuous and passionate relationship. Claudel never lived with Rodin, who was reluctant to end his 20-year relationship with Rose Beuret. Apparently, knowledge of the affair agitated Claudel’s family, especially her mother, who never completely agreed with her involvement in the arts.

Jasper Johns & Robert Rauschenberg

Jasper Johns met Robert Rauschenberg in the winter of 1953-52. The two men encountered one another again at a party a short while after their initial meeting and their relationship developed quickly. From very early in 1954, Johns became the major focus of Rauschenberg’s attention. From the start, Rauschenberg embraced Johns in unabashedly romantic terms, "I have photos of him then that would break your heart. Jasper was soft, beautiful, lean and poetic."

Their intense emotional and intellectual rapport, in concert with the homophobic context of Cold War culture, created the conditions for a shared private language. Together, these two American Abstract Expressionists developed a shared language in their art of comic strip codes and dense wordplays. They remained loves for eight years and their break-up was so bitter that both left New York for their native South and neither saw nor spoke to one another for over a decade.

Pure Evil & Crossie

Graffiti and street artist Pure Evil is married to fine artist Crossie. They have exhibited their work together in a joint exhibition in the vaults of a 600 year old Viennese church. And their creative partnership has recently produced a new edition, and source of inspiration, to the Pure Evil family, baby Bunny!

Max Ernst & Dorothea Tanning

Gallery owner Julien Levy introduced painter Dorothea Tanning to the circle of émigré Surrealists whose work he was showing in his New York gallery, including the German painter Max Ernst. As Tanning recounts in her memoirs, ‘Birthday and Between Lives’, when Ernst visited her studio in 1942, they played chess, fell in love, and embarked on a life together that soon took them to Sedona, Arizona, and later to France. The two artists married in 1946, in a double wedding with Man Ray and Juliet Browner.

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