Friday, February 6, 2009

Significant Others: Creativity & Intimate Partnership

Through the history of art and literature there have been many partnerships of immense creativity; husbands, wives, lovers and companions who have inspired, cherished and enabled the production of great works.

Biographies of artists and writers have traditionally presented an individual's lone struggle for self-expression. In this book, critics and historians, challenge these assumptions in a series of essays that focus on artist and writer couples who have shared sexual and artistic bonds. Featuring duos such as Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel, Sonia and Robert Delaunay, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and Jasper Johns and Robert Ruaschenberg, this book combines biography with evaluation of each partner's work in the context of the relationship.

I first bought this book when I worked at the National Building Museum. They have a great store there. On lunch breaks I used to look at all their really nice art books. This one was about bonds that some artist had shared. How they worked, shared and created together. I had never known of the relationship between Jasper Johns and Robert Ruaschenberg and fell in love with the stories of Henry Miller and Anais Nin. So interesting! When Anaia Nin died, they found a vault full of over 40 journals. She underwrote the cost of printing 'Tropic of Cancer', about 5000 francs, which she borrowed from another of her smitten lovers. When the book appeared, it was priced at fifty francs and came with a notice that the book should be not shown in windows. In order to save money, Jack Kahane of Obelisk Press had his fourteen year old son design the cover, which depicted a woman in the jaws of a crab.

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