Modern Couples

Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde

10 October 2018 - 27 January 2019
Art Gallery
What do we mean by a ‘couple’ today? With society’s changing approach to marriage, partnerships, family, parenthood and gender, this major exhibition is the first to showcase creative individuals who came together in  intimate relationships to work across photography, sculpture, architecture, poetry, music and dance. In so doing, they forged new kinds of art and ways of living, while challenging gender stereotypes.

Featuring around 40 principal couples; among them legendary figures such as Gabriele Münter and Wassily Kandinsky; Varvara Stepanova and Alexander Rodchenko; Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West; Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais; Eileen Gray and Jean Badovici; Lee Miller and Man Ray; Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson; Dora Maar and Pablo Picasso; as well as lesser known couples such as Emilie Flöge and Gustav Klimt; Romaine Brooks and Natalie Clifford-Barney, Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt, and Mary Reynolds and Marcel Duchamp, the show offers a rich exploration of intimate relationships in all their various forms, from obsessional and fleeting to life-long – revealing a playground for experimentation and creativity. As well as key works of modern art, the exhibition will illuminate the lives of couples with personal photographs, diaries and letters. 

Part of our 2018 Season, The Art of Change, which explores how artists respond to, reflect and can potentially effect change in the social and political landscape.

Exhibition organised by Centre Pompidou-Metz in collaboration with Barbican Centre, London
This event is part of:
Barbican Art Gallery in London presents major exhibitions by leading international figures in the heart of the City of London


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