Whether in music, on screen, on stage, or on canvas, relationships can become a playground for creativity. A new exhibition at the Barbican Centre in London explores the art that results when creative and personal relationships collide. Featuring painting, sculpture, photography, design and literature, this groundbreaking retrospective celebrates artistic collaboration in the early 20th century. 

Modern Couples puts the spotlight on the work of a number of iconic couples including Vita Sackville West and Virginia Woolf, Salvador Dalí and Federico García Lorca and Lee Miller and Man Ray. One such remarkable couple to make waves in the Modern Art scene was Pablo Picasso and French photographer, Dora Maar. After meeting in the winter of 1935 at Les Deux Magots cafe in Paris, a regular for artists on the Left Bank, Picasso became entranced by Maar. Both artists were inspired by each others work; the Surrealist nature of Maar’s photographs are clear to have heavily influenced Picasso’s work during the period. At her studio in Rue d’Astorg, the pair experimented with photography and painting, with both featuring as the subjects in the other’s work. The relationship was passionate but tumultuous, primarily as Picasso remained in a relationship with the mother of his daughter. In 1943, Picasso began a relationship with the young painter Françoise Gilot, leaving Maar heartbroken for many years to come. 

Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy, and the Avant-Garde runs from October 10th 2018 until January 27th 2019 at the Barbican Centre, London. 

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