10 Art Couples You Never Knew Dated

Lesser-known hookups and breakups, from Cindy Sherman to Jeff Koons.

Jeff Koons, Justine Koons Photo: Clint Spaulding/PatrickMcMullan.com

We don’t have to tell you that the art world is a pretty incestuous place. But while there are some art world couples whose names are practically synonymous with one another, we’ve compiled a list of some lesser-known hookups and breakups.

Sherman and Longo in 2014.  Photo: Patrick McMullan/PatrickMcMullan.com

Cindy Sherman and Robert Longo in 2014.
Photo: Patrick McMullan/PatrickMcMullan.com

1. Cindy Sherman and Robert Longo
Sherman and Longo met while they were both in art school at State University of New York at Buffalo College. They went on their first date to Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery, where Longo quizzed her on the museum’s collection. He eventually encouraged her to record her process of changing her face with makeup, and would photograph her in different costumes. The pair moved to New York City in 1977 and split in 1979, but they have remained friends ever since.

2. Lisa Spellman and Richard Prince
The owner of 303 Gallery, Spellman was briefly married to Prince, whose work she has shown at the gallery even after their marriage dissolved. The couple got together circa 1984 and divorced some time after.

3. Judy Rifka and David Reed
Both artists, Rifka and Reed were married and produced a son, John Reed, who is now a novelist.


Jeff Koons in 2013.  Photo: Clint Spaulding/PatrickMcMullan.com

Jeff Koons in 2013.
Photo: Clint Spaulding/PatrickMcMullan.com

4. Jeff Koons and Cicciolina
Cicciolina (also known as Ilona Staller), a porn star and one-time member of the Italian parliament collaborated with Koons on his “Made in Heaven” series, after he saw a picture of her in a European magazine, flew to Rome, watched her perform, and requested that she work with him. They fell in love and were married, despite a major language barrier. The marriage ended in 1998, amid allegations that Koons had subjected her to emotional abuse.

5. Sarah Charlesworth and Amos Poe
Charlesworth, who passed away in 2011, was married to filmmaker Amos Poe for several years, producing two children. The pair met in the 1970s, and when he questioned who exactly purchased her work, she replied, Nobody, it’s not about selling this stuff, this is conceptual art.” They were married in 1983, two years after she interviewed him about his film Subway Riders for the Spring 1981 issue of Bomb Magazine.

6. Cindy Sherman and Michel Auder
A few years after her relationship with Robert Longo ended, Sherman was married to French photographer and filmmaker Michel Auder. The pair got married after just five months of knowing each other, but remained together from 1984  to 1999. After her divorce from Auder, Sherman was linked to Talking Heads front man David Byrne, as well as Richard Prince.

7. Helen Frankenthaler and Clement Greenberg
While Frankenthaler is better remembered for her relationship with Robert Motherwell, she also dated Greenberg for five years. As one of history’s most influential critics, Greenberg helped champion Color Field painting as an influential movement of the time. Frankenthaler and Greenberg seperated in 1955, though they remained friends. She married Motherwell in 1958, though they divorced 13 years later.

Morrisrie's portrait of Pierson, entitled "Jonathan" (1982). Source: artnet

Mark Morrisroe’s portrait of Jack Pierson, entitled Jonathan (1982).
Photo: Courtesy artnet

 8. Mark Morrisroe and Jack Pierson
Morrisroe and Pierson dated briefly, back when Pierson was still going by the name Jonathan and they both were in art school in Boston. A photograph of Pierson similar to the one above was included in the show.

9.  Susan Rothenberg and George Trakas 
Both artists, the pair met and married in 1971, and gave birth to a daughter in 1972. They divorced in 1979, and the pain of the separation influenced Rothenberg’s work. She has said that “[her] series of “vomiting head” drawings of 1978 express the turmoil of her…divorce.”

10. Marina Abramović and  Neša Paripović
Abramović is known for her relationships with performance artist Ulay and with Italian contemporary artist Paolo Canevari. However, she and Paripović, who is considered one of the forefathers of Conceptual art in ’60s and ’70s Serbia, were married from 1971 to 1976. In 1976 Abramović left Yugoslavia and moved to Amsterdam.

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