When you think of artist couples, who do you think of? Do you think of Frida and Diego? What about Krasner and Pollock? My personal favorite is Abramovic and Ulay. These two performance artists are responsible for one of my favorite pieces of performance art, “The Other: Resting Energy,” 1980, where Abramovic holds a bow and Ulay pulls back the arrow and they both lean back and rest in that position. The two of them decided to end their relationship by starting from one end of the great wall of China and meeting in the middle. The two artists reunited during Abramovic’s “The Artist is Present,” at the MOMA which is one of the most emotional few minutes I’ve ever seen.
Here are some other artist couples that are equally as swoon-worthy.
Claude Cahun & Marcel Moore
Before the word Trans was even a thing, this couple was happily living a Trans lifestyle. These two artists adopted their gender-neutral names in 1917 and lived and worked together. What’s even cuter is that they were childhood friends turned lifelong partners.
Cahun was a poet, essayist, and photographer while Moore was an illustrator, both of whom were involved in the surrealist movement. They once referred to the other as “the other me.”
The two of them protested the Nazis and were later arrested before being liberated. The two of them worked and lived together until separated by death.
Lee Miller & Man Ray
Most people get it wrong when they look at this relationship; people often consider Miller and Ray to be an artist and muse relationship. However, Miller was an artist in her own right.
Her influence made a lasting impression on Ray’s art and she – after working as an assistant – went on to make amazing work as a photographer and photojournalist in WWII.
The two of them eventually reunited and had a friendship that lasted through their later years.
Gwendolyn Knight & Jacob Lawrence
These two met while Knight was assisting on a mural Lawrence as helping with. Knight painted beautifully and minimialistically for the time as well as Lawrence. Knight additionally helped Lawrence with his now famous 60 panels “Migration Series”.
The two of them traveled together, supported one another, and were each other’s most valued critiques. Lawrence once said of Knight “It’s provocative when you have a person like this whom you respect.”
The two of them stayed together until death.
Ari & Josef Albers
This couple fleed Nazi Germany after meeting while studying textiles and glass blowing respectively. While textiles were the only medium offered to women at the time, Ari leaned into it and created abstract wallhangings.
The two of them were together for the rest of their lives and taught together at the Black Mountain College.
John Cage & Merce Cunningham
These two also taught at the Black Mountain College. They met when Cage was a musical accompanist for a dance class that Cunningham was taking.
The two of them started to collaborate together in New York which is where their partnership became romantic.
The beauty of their collaborative work is that both the music – experimental and strong – and the dance – movement guided rather than by music or narrative – could stand on their own but work beautifully together.