Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Art Blog: Artist COUPLES

This all started a few weeks ago. As I trolled the internet, I came upon a female artist who interested me. I went to her website and noticed all the prominent information on the page was about her husband who was also an artist. I actually had to dig in order to find out what kind of art she does. To me this was sad. I wondered why she allows this. The scariest part is she designed the website herself!

I was so disgusted, but quickly realized it is her life. This kind of tribute is something I will never understand. I have never been part of an artist couple. I have never been in any kind of healthy relationship. Even when I was part of couple, it wasn’t what I imagine to be the “real deal”. I always just did what I wanted and my partner was background noise. This is why I have ended up being single most of my life. I feared walking in someone else’s shadow.

This revelation came on the heels of realizing I knew far more about Leon Golub than Nancy Spero. This topic continued to float in my mind for days. I recalled reading the biography of Sonia Delaunay years ago. As I read about her life, I was so irritated she willingly took a back seat to her husband Robert. After finishing the book, I had such a sorrowful feeling. This memory opened the floodgates. I thought about O’Keefe and Stieglitz. Of course, there is Lee Krasner and Pollock. I would love to have been a bug on their studio walls! I started to wonder who else could be on a list of artist/artist relationships. I couldn’t find a list of artist couples online. So I started my own Artist COUPLES list.

I am not sure what I am going to do with the list. I know for sure, I am going to do research on every couple just so I become enlightened about the work of BOTH artists! I think writing a book about art couples would be a fabulous idea. However, that would be a daunting task. I am not sure why I am obsessing about this list. I do know this is very emotionally potent to me. This was made very clear yesterday when Eva Lake contributed a few names to my list. (SIDE NOTE: Eva has a fabulous radio interview show which you should check out! Art Focus: KBOO.)

Besides giving me more names of art couples, she also turned me on to a new movie just released titled “Guest of Cindy Sherman”. In this case, the shoe is on the other foot. The story is about Paul H-O, a videographer who has a romantic relationship with Cindy Sherman. During the relationship, he gradually loses his identity in the shadow of Cindy’s fame. In the trailer, there is a striking moment. Paul is being interviewed and while speaking about the relationship makes the comment “I know what it feels like to be the wife.” OMG! Did he really say that? Yes. He did. I actually felt pain in my chest when he said those words. I guess this answers the question why I am interested in compiling my list.

My next question is:

Where are all the movies about all the artists who were the actual WIVES?

Click to see movie trailer for “Guest of Cindy Sherman”


Eva said...

I bought into the typical western art history for a very long time. One time a man said to me that he suspected that Sophie Taueber Arp was the better artist to her husband, Jean Arp. I was so Arp crazy, I said no way.

But now I realize that many of the main elements and themes of Jean Arp's work come from Sophie. It is remarkable actually. He stopped working for five years after death. Grief is the first thought which comes to mind, but she was also the big idea machine in the duo - no doubt he felt that loss too.

She died young and of course the man is going to get all the kudos back then anyway. But it was startling to recall how willing I was (in the 80s) to give it all up for the man and just dismiss.

I think this happened a lot in art history.

WEE-HOO said...

I loved Guest of Cindy Sherman... I am friends with a mail artist who grew up with Paul. Paul sent him a copy of the film and then I got to see it too... I love films about art, artists and their lives... real or imagined.