The famous couples of today are Kylie and Tyga, Brad and Angelina…but the famous couples of the past were much more impressive, especially when joining their creative forces. Throughout history, these artists may have had rough endings or happy endings, but either way, their explosive relationships were iconic and to be remembered for the ages.
1. Pablo Picasso and Francoise Gilot
Mr. Picasso was always known for having numerous muses, but the most famous was Françoise Gilot, an artist who had been producing famous work since 21, who he ended up having two children with. Picasso apparently wooed her with a bowl of cherries in a restaurant. They actually weren’t married – he had a 10 year affair with Gilot! She was his muse, and he inspired her take on cubism, but in the end, the relationship was too volatile to last.
2. Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera
These two characters would only be able to put up with each other, with their personalities. They were married in 1929, but divorced after Rivera was discovered to have cheated on his wife with her sister, Christina. And Kahlo cheated with Josephine Baker! However, a year later she took him back and they were happily ever after until Kahlo’s death in 1954, which Rivera referred to as “the most tragic moment” of his whole existence. Aw.
3. Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe
Yes, the famous female anatomy inspired artist was married to Alfred Stieglitz, the 20 year older photographer and gallerist…and mentor to O’Keeffe, apparently. Her rising career sent O’Keeffe to New Mexico, where they exchanged love letters till death. Thank god for emails – most tedious long distance relationship ever! Over 20,000 letters! That’s dedication.
4. Marina Abramovic and Ulay
These two performance artists have enough bittersweet emotion between the two of them to make anyone cry. They even were born on the same day, and referred to each other as “parts of a two-headed body”. Their art together was magnificently memorable, but their goodbye art exhibit was tragic – each walking from the other side, they met in the middle of the Great Wall of China, and years later, in one of Marina’s shows The Artist Is Present, Ulay arrived and showed up out of nowhere, for an incredible moment.
5. Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes
The notorious Sylvia Plath met fellow poet and writer Ted Hughes, but in less than a year, Ted’s cheating let to a lack of trust in the marriage – her animosity and wounds were displayed in The Bell Jar, but writing proved to not be cathartic enough as she took her own life later. Ted Hughes was also deemed one of the 20th century’s best writers, and his post-Sylvia life was spent editing her work and writing a book of poems that reflected on her passing.
6. Elaine Fried and Willem De Kooning
This marriage was not a very harmonious one. The two learned immensely from each other in terms of art, but the alcoholism and infidelities proved to be destructive for the marriage, but they surprisingly stayed together until his painter-critic wife died of lung cancer. 46 years (with an 18 year separation). Jeez. Apparently, Willem seduced Elaine through teaching her art.
7. Man Ray and Lee Miller
Man Ray was once quoted saying he didn’t take on apprentices, but we guess that model Lee Miller was an exception. She moved to Paris to work with him, eventually becoming his assistant and muse, and then his lover. They were only together for two years, but Miller discovered the solarisation techniques that Man Ray became famous for, and was credited for many of his photographs between 1929 and 2932.
8. Jackson Pollack and Lee Krasner
This relationship was a famously unstable one, and with the troubled, alcohol-addled Pollock, that’s not too surprising. They both intensely loved art, which probably helped the relationship, but Krasner ended up being too independent and ultimately, too good for the unpredictable Pollack. He first met her when he was drunk at 24 (already an alcoholic at that point).
9. Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre
These great thinkers were together for 50 years, but the philosophers were known to share female lovers and have an open relationship. They both had contributed to the development of Existentialism, but never ended up legally marrying or having children. Such forward thinkers for their time. They met studying for a highly competitive pos-grad philosophy examination in the 1920’s.