The Best Creative Duos
We all have in mind mythical couples in art, from Camille Claudel and Rodin to Diego Rivera and Frida Khalo or Jean Tinguely and Nikki de Saint-Phalle. These artists love and fuel each other’s creativity but keep independent creative processes: in their case, creation is an individual act. But what happens when two artists not only share their private life but also their art? What happens when two independent artistic entities decide to put their skill together to form one bigger and better artist?
The phenomenon is rare enough in the artistic world to be noted. Whether life partner or family members, those “duos” have succeeded in putting their artistic ego aside to reach the next artistic level.
Artpser has selected 8 of those to make you dream about what kind of connection you could have with your partner!
1. CHRISTO AND JEANNE-CLAUDE
Christo and Jeanne-Claude is a famous creative duo formed by Christo Javacheff, of Bulgarian origin, and Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, that he met in Paris in 1958. Just for the anecdote, the two are born on the exact same day and year (June 13th 1965), and as they like to say, at the same hour too.
They started to collaborate artistically as soon as they met. Christo is the hand operator of the duo and Jeanne-Claude rather the mastermind. They started working on big scale and ephemeral interventions on buildings and entire landscapes after they emigrated in the United States in 1964. They are notably famous for their “wrap up” of buildings and, more generally, their land art interventions. Their work is always monumental and ephemeral at the same time, as well as conceived for specific outdoor locations.
Hardly marketable, only photographs and preparatory studies of their work remain once it is done.
Their approach? “Revealing through hiding”.
2. GILBERT & GEORGES
Gilbert and Georges are probably the quirkiest artist couple in history! Always impeccably dressed, they are the epitome of English gentlemen coming out of the queen’s tea party. They are even synchronized when they walk in the street! Nothing to prepare us to the bold and provocative nature of their work!
Those two met in 1943 at the famous St Martin School of Art of London where they exhibited together at first, but rapidly created as one. They started as “living sculptures”, an attitude that they sort of perpetuated all along their life, turning themselves into works of art too. Their duo is the primary material for their original photographic creations tackling subjects like homosexuality, sex, passion, religion, and politics. They even go as far as using their own urine, sperm, blood and feces in their work. Not so uptight after all !
Herakut is the fusion of Aka Hera and Falk Akut Lehmann, a German street artist duo who met in 2004 during an international graffiti festival. Hera brings to the duo her academic training and Akut, an early skill for spray-paint acquired in the street. She draws and does the sketches, while he fills up, and adds details and realism. The encounter of their two styles, the dreamlike and touching universe of Hera combined with the complete mastery of bombing and the photorealist style of Akut, make up for a unique body of work: a world immediately recognizable filled with sweet creatures wearing animal hats and presented in awkward positions.
Their mural are everywhere in big cities all around the world, from San Francisco to Toronto and Miami.
4. ANNE AND PATRICK POIRIER
Anne and Patrick Poirier are an artistic duo from France: he is from Marseilles, she is from Nantes. Both born during the war, their work is an exploration of history and memory through the recreation of real and imaginary cities at the crossroad of sculpture, installation, archeology and architecture.
Their work draws on the exploration of antique sites and vestige. After the 70’s their work took a turn and they focused on burned cities, inspired by antique towns like Ostia or imaginary ones from Borges’ tales or mythology.
They participated in a large number of international artistic events such as the Venice Biennale (in 1976, 1980, 1984), the Lyon Biennale in 200 or The Havana Biennale in 2006. Numerous renowned institutions have acquired their work too, such as the MoMa, the Pompidou museum, or the Brooklyn Museum.
5. HOW & NOSM
How & Nosm, aka Raoul and Davide Pierre, are two twin brothers born in Spain from German origins. They are known for their red, black and white murals with a very distinctive style and imagery. Their reduced chromatic choice, pragmatic at first, became their trademark and allowed them to push further the boundaries of spray-paint. The twins began graffiti when teenager immerged in the skateboard culture.
Fusion is complete between the two: when one begins a sentence, the other finishes it! Their visual universe is complex and if the characters of their murals seem friendly at first, when one look closer, the darkness of the scenes reveals itself. Their work talk about alcoholism, betrayal, power abuse etc. The closer you look at it, the more layer of meanings you find, which makes their work so powerful.
6. JANA & JS
Another famous street art duo, especially in France, is Jana and JS. Jana is from Austria, Jean-Sebastien, aka JS, is from France. They met in 2004 in Madrid where they shared a flat for a year. Neither of them was doing art related studies, but JS discovered street art in Madrid and Jana started photography, while also drawing and painting. They began working together in 2006 when Jana came to live with JS in Paris.
Their creative process is always the same: they take a picture first, then cut it out here and there, create a stencil, and finally, they refine and add details to the image with acrylic.
In their work, they are used to staging themselves on urban background, often with a camera in their hands. The subject of their work is therefore generally related to their life: experiences, trips, people they meet etc.
They now live and work in Salzburg.
7. OS GEMEOS
Here is another creative duo tied by blood: in Portuguese, “Os Gemeos” means “twins”. Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo are two Brazilian street artists from Sao Paulo.
They were introduced to graffiti at the end of the 1980’s and acquired fame slowly but surely over the years. Their very recognizable style became a sign of identity of the Brazilian street art community: it combines elements of hip hop and Brazilian culture.
Their work revolves around family portraits, or scenes showing Sao Paulo’s sociopolitical context, as well as Brazilian folklore.
Their encounter with the American street artist Barry McGee was a turning point in their art: it helped define their style and their universe filled with yellow skin characters.
8. ALLORA & CALZADILLA
Jennifer Allora is American and Guillermo Calzadilla is Cuban: they met in 1995 while they were both studying abroad in Florence and started creating together shortly after. Their work –sculpture, video or performance- is always to be linked with a particular sociopolitical context.
They work on series, like the entitled Land Mark that they started in 1999 – a series of films, photographs, performances on Vieques, a Porto Rican island used as a military base by the United States. This series questions the political, economic and cultural markers that differentiate both lands.
Since then, their hybrid and metaphorical work explores the dynamics of music and power, as well as the subject of nature and human history.
In 2012, they participated to the Documenta in Kassel and in 2011, they represented United States at the Venice Biennale.
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