Artists are fascinating figures that greatly intrigue many of us.
They inspire us to look at the world through their eyes and teach us about the time and place in which they have lived. What is even more fascinating than the individual artists, are a couple of them.
Here is a list of 5 famous art couples from the last century.
Salvador Dali and Gala
Salvador Dali is known for his multifaceted artistic work, he has dipped his toes into painting, writing, sculpting, film and acting.
However, much of his success is to be attributed to his inspiring wife Helena Ivanovna Diakonova, aka Gala.
Gala was 10 years older than Dali when they met in 1929. She had a history of romantic relationships with other artists, such as Paul Eluard to whom she was married for a time.
Before they met, Dali was a rather poor and unknown artist, with a lack of focus, he simply drew and painted whatever he saw.
With Gala entering his life everything changed. She was a frequent muse and inspiration for his artwork. The painting The Madonna of Port Lligat represents Gala in a version of the Blessed Mary.
From 1930 onwards, Dali started to sign his work with both of their names. According to Daily Art Magazine Dali explained this with a sentence “it is mostly with your blood, Gala, that I paint my pictures.”
Throughout their marriage, Gala had extramarital affairs, which she was open about. Dali did not have a problem with it, as he was a virgin, afraid of sexual intercourse.
She was first and foremost his muse and companion.
They lived together for 53 very turbulent years prior to Gala’s death. Upon her dying Dali began a self-destructive behavior, refusing to eat and became severely depressed. He died 7 years after her.
Amedeo Modigliani and Jeanne Hebuterne
Amedeo Modigliani, a bohemian and painter was so inspired by his wife Jeanne Hebuterne that he featured her in countless of his works.
Their love story ended tragically, making it one of the saddest love stories in art.
The two met in 1917 at the Académie Colarossi, where she was studying drawing. They started an affair, but it was clear to all around them from the beginning that Jeanne would be Modigliani’s wife, not only a fling which he often had.
She is known for being the most devoted wife one could imagine. Despite hardships, she endured Modigliani`s strong character and problems with alcohol. She always pushed through and stayed by his side.
Modigliani died of tuberculosis, to which his various addictions did not help. Jeanne was wrought by depression due to her bad relationship with her parents who disapproved of their relationship, along with her destitution and lack of means for survival on top of Modigliani’s sickness.
She killed herself and the child she was carrying one day after his death.
She left a painting of herself lying dead on a bed where Modigliani used to paint her. Jeanne had painted this piece in the hours leading to her throwing herself out of a window.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera
Frida Kahlo, now a symbol of feminine strength and famous for her unibrow, eccentricity and self–portraits which she mostly painted while being stuck in bed due to sickness, met the famous muralist Rivera in 1928.
He was two decades older and her teacher, but she fell for him from the moment she met him. They got married in 1929 and were together until her death, excluding a break in 1939 when they separated due to infidelity.
Their marriage is characterized by complexity, violence and passionate love. According to The Guardian, she said that the second accident of her life was meeting Diego, referring to being in a bus accident she barely survived when she was 18.
The painting “Diego on my mind” is the epitome of the deep love she felt for him. She painted his image on her forehead, representing the deep affection towards him.
When Frida died, Diego felt that his reason for living had left him and suffered greatly.
Pablo Picasso and Françoise Gilot
Pablo Picasso, the pioneer of Cubism, met Gilot, an art student 20 years his junior, in 1949. They never officially married, but they lived together for ten years and had two children. Pablo’s art was deeply influenced by various women he had throughout his life. However, the story with Gilot is definitely the most romantic.
Pablo created a series of Gilot’s portraits from 1945 – 1946 trying, for him, a new technique of lithography. Besides this, there are numerous paintings and graphics of her, among them the famous Buste de Françoise.
Pablo was likewise a strong influence on the work of Gilot. Besides being her lover, he was her art teacher. However, she did not let his influence overwhelm her work.
Pablo was known for not being able to settle down, driving many women into madness and despair. However, Gilot was the one to leave him after 10 years of their relationship.
According to The Guardian, she recalled telling Picasso: “I said watch out, because I came when I wanted to, but I will leave when I want. He said, nobody leaves a man like me. I said we’ll see.”
She has continued to thrive artistically after their separation, and from 2002 onwards has lived with relatives between Paris and NYC. She is currently 96 years old.
Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner
Jackson Pollock, famous for his unique abstract paintings met Lee Krasner in 1942 when exhibiting at the same gallery. Lee Krasner was likewise a modernist abstract painter who was much more renowned than him at the time she met Pollock.
They both inspired each other’s work greatly. Pollock profited from her technical training while simultaneously developing his own style. She found influence from her husband in attaining a higher freedom of artistic expression.
They both thrived together in a harmonious relationship until the beginning of the 1950s. Pollock then became an alcoholic and gradually became uninterested in their marriage.
He had an affair in 1956 and by that year also stopped painting. Lee decided to give them both some space and left for Paris. In her absence he drunkenly had a fatal car accident. Upon finding out, Lee came home from Paris to bury him and mourned him for the rest of her life.