The Greatest Art Romances Of All Time

Photo: Portrait of Diego Rivera and Malu Block and Frida Kahlo de Rivera, 1932. Carl Van Vechten photograph collection (Library of Congress), courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Perhaps there is nothing quite so romantic as falling in love, the feeling over being swept away and overcome. The emotions one feels, the sense that one has lost control, that there is nothing as important as being in the presence of the object of our affections.

Also: The Biggest Art Rivalries

But falling in love and staying in love are two entirely different things. Sustaining love is a challenge all its own, for if it is not nurtured and tended, it will wither on the vine. Relationships are hard, as anyone who has ever been in one will let you know. So just imagine the added thrills and complexities of a romance between two artists. Crave looks back at some of the most intriguing and inspiring art romances of all time.

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, 1932. Carl Van Vechten photograph collection (Library of Congress), courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo

Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo are perhaps the most famous couple of all time, known for their passion, their affairs, and the artwork that they produced during their lives. Married in 1929, they divorced ten years later, citing violence and infidelity as the cause. But they could not be apart; they remarried in 1940. It was not until Kahlo died in 1954 that they were to part, which Rivera later described as the most tragic event of his life.

Portrait of Georgia O’Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz, 1918, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Portrait of Alfred Stieglitz, 1935. Carl Van Vechten photograph collection (Library of Congress), courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Alfred Steiglitz & Georgia O’Keeffe

A true May-December romance, when famous photographer Alfred Stieglitz met unknown art teacher Georgia O’Keeffe in 1916, he was in his 50s, while she was in her 20s. They married eight years later in 1924, living together in New York until O’Keeffe relocated to New Mexico to paint. But this did not end their love: between them, they wrote more than 20,000 letters.

Man Ray in Paris, 1934. 1932. Carl Van Vechten photograph collection (Library of Congress), courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Portrait of Lee Miller b y Man Ray. Paris, France, 1929 © MAN RAY TRUST / ADAGP, Paris / Bildrecht Wien 2015. Courtesy Lee Miller Archives, England 2015.

Man Ray & Lee Miller

In 1929, fashion model Lee Miller moved to Paris to stuffy photography with artist Man Ray. At first he insisted he did not take students, but Miller became his model, co-collaborator, muse, and paramour. They remained a couple until 1932, collaborating on innovations in photography like solarization. They parted as friends, with each of them going on to achieve veen greater heights. Theirs was a true meeting of the spirits, souls, and minds.

Robert Rauschenberg, 1968. Jac. de Nijs / Anefo, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Jasper Johns & Robert Rauschenberg

In the mid-1950s, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg fell in love, and with their romance a major shift occurred in the American art world. The stormy machismo of Abstract Expressionism was replaced by the softer sensibilities of Pop Art. Needless to say, they kept their relationship under wraps; in the years before the Stonewall Rebellion, open homosexuality could destroy careers and land people in jail. When the couple split in 1961, their hearts were broken did they did not communicate for more than a decade.

Gilbert & George, 2010. © Bryan Ledgard, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Gilbert & George

In 1967, Gilbert Proesch met George Passmore and nothing would ever be the same again. It was love at first sight for the British artists who have worked together as “Gilbert & George” for five decades. Adopting the slogan “Art for All,” they have taken an anti-elitist approach to their work, producing work for the people that touches upon contemporary themes that encompass the depths of human experience including sexuality, race, religion, terrorism, AIDS, aging, and death.

Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Vogue Online, The Undefeated, Dazed Digital, Aperture Online, and Feature Shoot. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.