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The Love Lives of the Artists

As the oldest of institutions, marriage seems outdated in modern times, when each individual is encouraged to break with tradition in order to fulfill him- or herself. And so artists like Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo prophesied a brave, new kind of marriage, where spouses would be allowed—even encouraged—to fulfill different aspects of themselves in different relationships. Shared creativity, they believed, would transcend their jealousies and compensate their sufferings: through art, they would rise above conventional marital fidelity, and prove a higher fidelity to art and to themselves.

The Love Lives of the Artists tells the stories of Rainer Maria Rilke and Lou Andreas–Salomé, Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe, Jean–Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Diego and Frida, and Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin—five couples who approached their relationships with the same rebellious creativity as they practiced in their art.


From their early artistic development and their first experiences in love, to their artistic marriages and their affairs—and then to their fights and reconciliations, addictions, nervous breakdowns and continued creativity—The Love Lives of the Artists describes the promise and the price of freedom and creativity in love.

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"Bullen describes, in clear, concise prose, the spoken, unspoken and bespoke romantic lives of five famous and famously articulate couples, whose marriages were as open as their minds, and as receptive to new passions. Their exceptional passions transcend what marriage was then, or is now, to serve as examples, in extremis, by which we might measure ourselves. A first class book and a fascinating read." –Pete Nelson, author of I Thought You Were Dead: A Love Story

"The amours of some of our greatest artists are explored here with balance and understanding. Bullen takes a serious look at both the beauty and the wreckage that results from the artist's sense of exceptionalism, and transports us into the bedrooms and the ambitions of these titanic artist–couples. Totally engrossing." –Amity Gaige, author of The Folded World and O My Darling.

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