Creative Partnerships: artist couples


Pippy Houldsworth is currently showing work by artist couples which got me thinking about couples and making art.

Being an artist is bloody hard work. Most of the time you are investing in your practice, speculating in order to create. This does not fit easily with living and eating and having  a family. However, in spite of this, creative people attract creative people. Like all relationships, creative partnerships range from the harmonious to the acerbic. Who better to share your life with than someone who understands the demands of creativity. Except that, if being an artist is hard, being an artist and a parent is harder. There is even a website devoted to it: artist parents together, which has resonances of About a Boy (Single Parents Alone Together: SPAT). The site has 85 members, most of whom are women. This is interesting because it suggests that creative people are very traditional when it comes to roles. Being part of a creative partnership that includes children is perhaps the hardest of all.

Barbara Hepworth (first marriage to John Skeaping (Sculptor)), met Ben Nicholson (Winifred Nicholson first marriage and Felicitas Vogler, German photographer his third) on a holiday in Norfolk.
Jeanne-Claude and Christo’s relationship is explored in Jeanne Claude’s obituary.
Victoria Lucas and Richard William Wheater 12 months of neon love: This project began when the artists were in a relationship, and by the end they were just good friends.

Heather and Ivan Morison
Awst and Walther

In 2009 Awst and Walther and Heather and Ivan Morison talked about artist duos and collaborative practice in a Cafe Artistique event at Oriel Davies in collaboration with Axis.

In Significant Others, published by Thames and Hudson, a series of essays explore how, through the history of art and literature, there have been many partnerships of immense creativity; husbands, wives, lovers and companions who have inspired, cherished and enabled the production of great works.

Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett, Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, and Anais Nin and Henry Miller, Rodin and Camille Claudel, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, Leonora Carrington and Max Ernst, Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera.


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