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Paula J. Birnbaum, “Tamara de Lempicka,” in Jane Alison, Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-Garde(London: Prestel, 2019). 


This fascinating, interdisciplinary, and generously illustrated book presents creative pairings that defy the idea of the modern artist as a solitary genius. In the art world, pairs of individuals often inspire each other's works. These intimate relationships are explored in all their various forms--obsessional, conventional, mythic, fleeting, life-long--in this book that illuminates the works of painters, sculptors, photographers, designers, poets, writers, musicians, dancers, and performers of the modern era. In addition to introductory essays, each couple is profiled in brief chapters that feature candid portraiture, illustrations of the works that illuminate the impact each had on the other, and an introductory text that pinpoints the significance of the relationship. Two additional chapters focus on surrealist couples and the Temple of Friendship in Paris to explore the common traits of collaboration, friendship, anti-establishment notions and radicalism that variously characterized these largely literary groups. Reflecting a contemporary view of sexuality and relationships, this book also offers a counterpoint to the notion of the female as muse, highlighting instead female empowered relationships and emphasizing a new balance between male and female creative output. Featuring artists across a wide variety of disciplines, this volume also reveals how creative individuals came together to overcome the constraints of their time, reshape art, redefine gender stereotypes, and forge new ways of living.

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