Six creative collaborations

Published 5 October 2015

Throughout history many artists have combined creativity with romance, finding inspiration and influence in each other's work – here are a few of our top partnerships.

1. Marina Abramovic and Ulay

Exploring ideas surrounding artistic identity and the limits of the body, these performance artists collaborated for over a decade, creating pieces that forced viewers to engage with the physicality and spirituality of humanity. One work Rest Energy sees the pair use their counteracting weight to prevent an arrow from piercing Abramovic’s heart. But perhaps their most famous piece consisted of each artist walking from separate ends of the Great Wall of China. The epic journey ended when they met in the middle, as did their romantic and artistic relationship.

Risk is at Turner Contemporary until 17 January 2016, free to all

2. Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith

Described as ‘co-conspirators in survival’ Mapplethorpe and Smith went from a life of abject poverty in New York to becoming the epicentre of the city’s notorious punk scene. Both achieved incredible success in their respective careers – Smith as a musician, Mapplethorpe as a photographer. Collaborations include several portraits produced in Mapplethorpe’s trademark black-and-white format, one of which was used for the cover of Smith’s seminal album Horses.

ARTIST ROOMS: Robert Mapplethorpe is at Aberystwyth Arts Centre until 7 November, free to all

3. Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg

As Abstract Expressionists both Johns and Rauschenberg paved the way for the Pop Art movement along with the likes of De Kooning and Pollock, placing the US at the forefront of the western art world for the first time. Throughout their relationship they worked together on various collaborations, along with other leading creative minds such as composer John Cage and choreographer Merce Cunningham.

Drawing in Silver and Gold: Leonardo to Jasper Johns is at the British Museum until 6 December
50% off with National Art Pass

4. Lee Miller and Man Ray

The young fashion model and socialite Elizabeth ‘Lee’ Miller sought out renowned Surrealist Man Ray – leaving New York for Paris in 1929 – where she quickly became his pupil, lover, collaborator and muse. The pair’s experiments in photography were groundbreaking, mastering subversive print processes such as solarisation. After their break-up Miller returned to the US to embark on an incredible career as a photojournalist. Her poignant images taken during the Second World War capture the horror of the Blitz and active combat.

Lee Miller: A Woman’s War is at IWM London, 15 October – 24 April 2016
50% off with National Art Pass

5. Charles and Ray Eames

This influential duo changed the face of 20th century design, working across architecture, furniture, graphics and domestic products. The pair met when Ray assisted Charles and his then-collaborator Eero Saarinen in the creation of a series of designs for the Museum of Modern Art’s Organic Furniture Competition. They married in 1941, and moved to California to set up the Eames office. Their incredible work in molded plywood furniture became hugely sought after, and exemplifies the post-war fascination with science, technology and utopian visions of the future.

The World of Charles and Ray Eames is at the Barbican Art Gallery, 21 October – 14 February 2016
Reduced price entry with National Art Pass

6. Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz

In 1916 the acclaimed photographer Alfred Stieglitz put on the first exhibition of an unknown schoolteacher from Texas in his Manhattan gallery, her name was Georgia O’Keeffe. They immediately struck up a friendship and an intense correspondence, which soon developed into a creative collaboration and mutual influence that would last over 20 years. Despite the age difference the pair fell in love and were married in 1924, but as O’Keeffe’s career skyrocketed she became restless, and settled in New Mexico where her practice flourished.

Georgia O’Keeffe is at Tate Modern, 6 July – 30 October 2016
50% off with National Art Pass

For two days we’ve partnered with dating app happn to encourage Londoners to fall in love with art this autumn, download the app and see who you cross paths with.

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