Words by Eliza Lourenço
When the stars align and two creatives get together, they can produce amazing art and also collaborate on bizarre projects. Sometimes the pairing makes sense and other times you would never guess that the two were head-over-heels.
To celebrate this Valentine’s Day, here are 10 couples, in particular order, that fall across the spectrum of creative love:
1. Grimes and Elon Musk
A couple stranger than fiction, the two met over a very, very nerdy Twitter joke back in 2018. Musk attempted to make a joke about the thought experiment but found that musician Claire Boucher, known as Grimes, had already made it.
The joke centres around a thought experiment known as Roko’s Basilisk, proposing that if we don’t help bring about the rise of AI we will be enslaved. Fun stuff.
Grimes combined the concept with the gilded French style Rococo of the 1700s to make the play on words Rococo Basilisk, who became her character in the music video for her song Flesh without Blood. The two began dating not long after the tweet.
Fast forward to 2020 and Grimes is pregnant, presumably with his child (though still unconfirmed). The two also dropped a track titled “Don’t Doubt ur Vibe” that cracked the top ten on SoundCloud upon release.
That’s a lot of questions to unpack on a few levels here. One thing’s for sure though, their child will have an interesting upbringing.
Grimes’ new album Miss Anthropocene, tackling climate change comes out February 21st.
2. Alejandro Jodorowsky and Pascale Jodorowsky
Our next couple, filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky and visual artist Pascale Montandon-Jodorowsky, also foray into concepts that transcend space and time.
Jodorowsky directed the Mexican-surrealist film The Holy Mountain and famously didn’t direct an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune.
According to Pascale Jodorowsky’s website her work focuses “on time and space, the transient and fleeting, and the connections between fragility and permanence.” Many of her husband’s films explore similar psychedelic ideas that push beyond filmmaking convention.
Together, the two created the 2017 art book Pascalejandro – L’androgyne Alchimique (Alchemical Androgynous). According to the exhibition’s website, “this magical core of creation, which unites the names of the spouses with the three letters they share, represents a conception of love and life, passionate and humane.”
If there’s anything that can be learned from them, it’s that psychedelia makes creative partnerships come alive.
3. Marina Abramovich and Ulay
Like many creative couples, performance artists Marina Abramovich and Ulay dived into love head first. Similar to entry number 10 on this list, the pair’s relationship was tempestuous.
“When I came to Amsterdam and I met him,” says Abramovich. “There was so much freedom that I was afraid [of] what to do with it. He showed me what to do with that freedom.”
In 1989, their final performance together was also planned to be their final farewell; walking the Great Wall of China and saying goodbye when they met in the middle.
A video of them went viral after they reunited at a retrospective of Abramovich’s work in 2010. Whilst they aren’t together these days and they had a messy split involving a lawsuit, they’re worth mentioning because they made an impressive body of work together.
You can watch a free documentary with interviews from the artists looking back on their relationship on Vimeo.
4. Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer
Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer are an odd couple, in the best possible way.
Gaiman and Palmer both work on a large amount of projects and often collaborate together. In 2015, the two released a spoken word version of Leonard Cohen’s song Democracy.
The author and musician both support a number of charities and encourage their fans to speak up about injustice and social issues.
They also use their platforms, together and separately, to campaign for human rights, literacy and many other causes. Palmer, who is currently in Australia, has even said she’s coming out with a charity album for the bushfires.
Gaiman and Palmer prove that creativity and charity go hand in hand alongside partnership.
5. Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson
After Lou Reed’s death in 2013, the Rock world went into mourning. Two years later his wife, multimedia artist Laurie Anderson spoke at the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame ceremony, accepting the honour on his behalf.
For the speech, Anderson outlined Reed’s three rules for life, showing a deep understanding of her partner of 21 years.
“The first one is don’t be afraid of anyone,” she says. “Now can you imagine living your life so that you are afraid of no one? And second is get a really good bullshit detector and learn how to use it. And third is be really, really tender. And with those three things, you don’t need anything else.”
After the two became a couple they pursued a wide range of interests and experiences. They travelled together, mediated together, even went butterfly hunting together–and much more.
If Anderson and Reed can teach us anything, it’s that curiosity adds incredible richness to partnership.
6. Beyonce and Jay-Z
This power couple have a legendary partnership, tracing back to the 2000 VMAs where they first met.
Their first collaboration, Bonnie and Clyde 03’, sparked rumours of a relationship. They were confirmed when the two attended the 2004 VMAs together.
14 years later and the two release APESHIT as The Carters, featuring a music video in the Louvre. If that’s not star power, what is?
Beyoncé and Jay-Z can teach couples a thing or two about what makes a good power couple.
7. Gilbert Proesch and George Passmore
These two visual and performative artists met at a London art school back in the 60s. According to them, their meeting was love at first sight.
Over their career, the two have explored many mediums, but refer to their works as sculptures.
Proesch and Passmore both support the democratisation of art. Which is a fancy way of saying that anyone can be an artist and appreciate art.
The two finally married in 2008 and can often be seen walking around East London together.
8. Ai Weiwei and Lu Qing
Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has led an impressive career spans dozens of documentaries, exhibitions, architectural projects and two books.
He’s also led a controversial career. For many years he’s spoken out against the Chinese government, using sites like Twitter to write commentary on the country’s political situation.
Ai Weiwei’s controversies and larger than life persona have meant that he’s drawn a lot of criticism and hatred. In 2011 everything seemed to culminate in him being arrested.
Ai Weiwei’s wife and fellow artist, Lu Qing, accepted an award on his behalf in the same year at London’s Frieze Art Fair whilst he was detained.
Although Qing isn’t in the spotlight as much, she’s been involved in politics and weathered the controversies with her husband.
The two make a formidable pair, standing up together to make their political voices heard through unrelenting commentary via art.
9. Keanu Reeves and Alexandra Grant
The internet broke for the umpteenth time when actor Keanu Reeves and artist Alexandra Grant went public last year in 2019.
A lot of the buzz was around the fact that she had silver hair and is close to Keanu Reeves’ age. It came as a shock for some to see a Hollywood star in an age appropriate relationship.
The two have worked together over the years on two poetry books: Ode to Happiness (2011) and Shadows (2015). Keanu Reeves wrote the poetry and Alexandra Grant illustrated them. The internet may have only found out about the couple last year but they’ve been going strong for several before stepping into the public eye.
Sometimes relationships need a lot of words to capture them and sometimes they don’t.
10. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera
Of course we had to include the original dysfunctional artistic couple. The pair were so fiery together that dysfunctional seems to be an efficient word.
Their relationship, in all it’s drama, was captured on screen in the 2002 film Frida. Salma Hayek played Kahlo alongside Alfred Molina’s Rivera, charting the ups and downs of illness and mutual infidelity.
The two pioneered art across several movements, including Mexican surrealism, muralism, naïve art and cubism. Kahlo and Rivera also diverged in their practices. He tended to look outward toward commentary on class whereas she focused on self-portraiture and womanhood.
Was their relationship productive? Sometimes. Equal? No. Problematic? Yes. Despite all the flaws of their marriage, there’s no denying that the two artists fueled each other’s creative drive.
Who are your favourite creative couples? Leave a comment below.