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Top 5 Couples in Art History

The maker of this painting holds one half of the top spot.
The maker of this painting holds one half of the top spot.

These are not the best lovey-dovey partnerships in visual art history. That would be lame.

Instead, kudos were earned for partnerships wrought with infidelities and general messed-up-ness. Because how else does one make art if not from a place of titanic heartbreak and crushing depression?

(Kidding. Kind of.)

Note: Musicians weren't allowed, so save your Ike-beating-Tina wisecracks for another day.

Top 5 Couples in Art History

5. Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O'Keefe

Imagine you're Emmy Obermeyer, wife of Stieglitz, a man who transformed photography from a science to an art, and you walk into your home to find the scumbag photographing a nude O'Keefe. Would you fall for that ol' "Oh, honey, this is art so don't worry your pretty little head none" line?

Yeah, screw that, especially because Stieglitz had discreetly flown O'Keefe from her home in Texas to New York City in the name of "art." Low blow, photo dude.

Though Stieglitz and O'Keefe would later marry, they rarely lived in the same time zone; the photographer fancied staying in New York while the painter posted up in New Mexico.

Stieglitz, 23 years O'Keefe's senior, died in 1946 from a fatal stroke. O'Keefe's prolific art career continued until her passing in 1986 at the age of 98. 

Top 5 Couples in Art History

4. Max Ernst and Leonora Carrington

Blame Nazi Germany, who swooped Ernst into incarceration multiple times, for making the couple eat one of the tastiest shit sandwiches ever made.

After Ernst ditched his wife for the much younger English-born creative type, the heavy-hitting surreal artists were only able to consummate their love affair for a few years. Ernst would eventually escape captivity, but the injustices left them too broken (each suffered major emotional breakdowns) to reconnect.

Following the break-up, Ernst wed Peggy Guggenheim in a shotgun marriage that didn't last before re-marrying and painting until his death in 1976.

Meanwhile, the greatest living surrealist eventually fled to Mexico, married and birthed two sons. The 94-year-old badass currently lives and works in Ciudad de México, where her art can be found all over the city in various museums and public-art installations. 

Top 5 Couples in Art History

3. Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner

Somebody had to deal with the aggro and alcoholic abstract expressionist Pollock. That lucky/unlucky person was Krasner.

But even Krasner, an accomplished painter herself, couldn't thwart the sinking ship that was Pollock's out-of-control life that ended in 1956 due to an alcohol-induced, single-car crash.

Krasner, who left the planet at age 75 in 1984, would continue painting as a distraught widow. The two are buried next to each other at Green River Cemetery in Springs, New York. 

Top 5 Couples in Art History

2. Jasper Johns (on the left in the photo) and Robert Rauschenberg

By all accounts, this long-time relationship that started in the 1950s seemed to be relatively tame. However, it scores bonus points because the love affair between the two male artists was on the down low and not publicly known about until years later, though not many details have surfaced.

Johns is still around while Rauschenberg succumbed to heart failure in 2008. 

Top 5 Couples in Art History

1. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo

Kahlo once said about Rivera, "I suffered two grave accidents in my life. One in which a streetcar knocked me down. The other accident is Diego."

Indeed.

After Frida had a miscarriage, the womanizing Rivera cheated on the frail Kahlo with Frida's younger sister. And that was just the start. The two lost souls would break-up, get back together, make art inspired by the other, cheat on one another, break up some more, etc.

After Kahlo's premature death at age 47, Rivera would later realize that his best days were when he loved her. So freaking emo.


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