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In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, Cowley Abbott profiles a selection of some of our favourite artist couples. These artists shared a personal chemistry which helped form the background of their lifelong artistic pursuits.

Kosso Eloul & Rita Lentendre
Photo Credit: David Cooper, 1987,

Painter Rita Letendre met Kosso Eloul while travelling in Italy in 1962. The couple married two years later, moving between Los Angeles and New York before settling together in Toronto in 1969. The two shared many fundamental artistic ideas, and their respective predilection for geometric abstraction both contrasts and compliments the other in interesting ways.

Rita Letendre, Untitled
Price Realized: $28,800
Kosso Eloul, Maquette for ‘Zen-West’
Price Realized: $6,000
Françoise Sullivan, Danse dans la neige, 1948, Performance
Photo Credit: photographie de Maurice Perron
Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Québec

When Paterson Ewen met Françoise Sullivan in 1949, their relationship formed the basis of a fruitful creative exchange. Sullivan was a member of the influential group Les Automatistes, and introduced Ewen to an entirely new milieu. Ewen’s artistic development was deeply impacted by the Quebec group’s experimental abstraction.

Paterson Ewen, Untitled
Price Realized: $20,400
Joan Mitchell and Jean Paul Riopelle in Chicago, about 1957
Photo Credit: Anonymous Photographer; Yseult Riopelle Archives

Over the course of a 24-year relationship, Joan Mitchell and Jean Paul Riopelle lived and painted together. The two influential painters sustained a rich exchange of creative ideas, sharing their deep commitment to their art. As documented in the Art Gallery of Ontario’s 2018 exhibition Mitchell/Riopelle: Nothing in Moderation, similar formal and intellectual concerns become clear when viewing the work of both artists side by side. 

Jean Paul Riopelle, Sans titre (circa 1959)
Price Realized: $504,000
Josef and Anni Albers
Photo Credit: The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation,

Among the most notable artist couples of the 20th century are Josef and Anni Albers. The two met in 1922 during the heyday of the Bauhaus art and design school in Weimar, Germany. In 1925, they married in Berlin. Following the closure of the school in 1933, the couple fled Nazi rule and resumed their careers at the Black Mountain College in North Carolina. The Albers’ extraordinary union fueled

one another’s creativity, each developing into leading figures of twentieth-century modernism. Josef and Anni Albers were married for 51 years.

Josef Albers, I-S f (Danilowitz 195)
Price Realized: $10,320

Romantic partnerships can form the basis of a dynamic, fruitful exchange of ideas, artistic concerns and formal practices. Cowley Abbott invites you to watch for the works of these art power-couples, along with many more, featured in our upcoming auctions.