Think modern art has been defined by the solitary genius? Think again, suggests this exhibition at the Barbican.

Looking at the creative output of a range of artistic couples in the first half of the 20th century, this exhibition brings together work by painters, sculptors, photographers, architects, poets, musicians and dancers.

Charting how the concept of a ‘couple’ has evolved, along with society’s approach to marriage, family and gender, it showcases the way in which a variety of intimate relationships – traditional, famed, short-lived and fixational – have resulted in experimentation and, at times, subversion of the status quo.

Part of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change, Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde reveals the ways in which creative partnerships have impacted on artistic practice and social restraints. Featuring works by around 40 principal artist couples, the exhibition calls into question the prevailing perception of modern art as largely defined by solitary genius.

Works by couples including Lee Miller and Man Ray, Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, and Dora Maar and Pablo Picasso are displayed alongside correspondence and photographic documents that reveal intimate interactions. In this way, the exhibition ranges from the intensely personal, to broad shifts in public perception.

Barbican Art Gallery

Level 3, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, Greater London, EC2Y 8DS

020 7638 8891


Opening times

Art Gallery
Sat - Wed: 10:00 - 18:00

Thurs - Fri: 10:00 - 21:00

Last entry 30 minutes before closing

The Curve
Sat - Wed: 10:00 – 18:00

Thu - Fri: 10:00 - 21:00

Last entry 15 minutes before closing

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