Modern Couples

Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde

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A. Rodchenko and V. Stepanova descending from an airplane.

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.

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 Varvara Stepanova and Alexander Rodchenko; Dora Maar and Pablo Picasso; Barbara Hepworth and Ben NicholsonSophie Taeuber-Arp and Jean Arp; Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin; Aino and Alvar Aalto; Lee Miller and Man RayVirginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West; as well as lesser known couples such as Emilie Flöge and Gustav KlimtRomaine Brooks and Natalie Clifford-Barney; George Platt Lynes, Monroe Wheeler and Glenway Wescott; and Maria Martins and Marcel Duchamp.

Exhibition organised by Centre Pompidou-Metz in collaboration with Barbican Centre, London.

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olaf breuning smoke installation at the barbican centre in london

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