Sunday, 1888-1890, oil on canvas. 

Paul Signac, 1863-1935, French.  Private collection on loan to MOMA, NY in 2020 

The museum points to the artist’s disdain for certain conventional but suffocating marital relationships






Double Portrait (Self-Portrait of the Artist with his Wife), 1911, oil on canvas. 

Max Pechstein, 1887-1955, German.  Baltimore Museum of Art  







Mother’s Darling, and detail, 1913, oil on canvas.

Guy Pene du Bois, 1884-1958, American.  Delaware Art Museum




Young Couple, 1913, lithograph. 

Emil Nolde, 1867-1956, German.  MOMA, NY





Married Life (La Vie conjugale), 1913, oil on canvas.

Roger de La Fresnaye, 1885-1925, French.  Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia from whose website this photograph






The Lovers, 1913-14, oil on canvas. 

Marc Chagall, 1887-1985, French born Russia.  MOMA, NY.

A representation of the artist and his fiancée, Bella Rosenfeld





Political Drama, 1914, oil and collage on cardboard. 

Robert DeLaunay, 1885-1941, French.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC





The Duo, 1914-1915, oil on canvas.  Giorgio di Chirico, 1914-15, Italian born Greece.  MOMA, NY





Girl and Cat, c. 1917, oil on canvas. 

Marguerite Thompson Zorach, 1887-1968, American.  Philadelphia Art Museum





Spring in Central Park, 1914, oil on canvas. 

William Zorach, 1889-1966, American born Lithuania.  Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Thought to be a representation of Adam and Eve before their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, surrogates for the artist and his wife, Marguerite, also an artist








Love in the Forest, 1920, oil on canvas. 

Heinrich Campendonk, 1899-1957.  German.  Philadelphia Art Museum






Mr. and Mrs. Chester Dale Dine Out, 1924, oil on canvas.

Guy Pène du Bois, 1884-1958,  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY







Untitled (Couple), 1926, oil on canvas. 

Gert Wollheim, 1894-1974, American born Germany. Jewish Museum, NY







The Lovers and detail, 1928, oil on canvas. 

Rene Magritte, 1896-1967, Belgian.  MOMA, NY

The museum notes that this painting follows Surrealist themes both of things hidden, masked, veiled and also of the pleasure of subversion of an act very familiar to us. 





The Couple, 1927, (cast either 1929 or 1930), bronze. 

Alberto Giacometti,  1901-1966, Swiss. ?Philadelphia Museum of Art






Portrait of Laura Canade Zigrosser, (1907-1997), c. 1928; and Carl Zigrosser, (1891-1975); c. 1928

Alexander Calder, 1898-1976, American.  Philadelphia Art Museum





Paul Robeson and Eslanda Goode Robeson, 1933.  Philadelphia Museum of Art







Harlem Dancers, 1937, Tennessee marble. 

Margaret Brassler Kane, 1909-2006, American.  Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC







Two Nudes in a Forest, 1939, oil on metal. 

Frida Kahlo, 1907-1954, Mexican.  On display at the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2016





“Nora,” he said huskily”, oil on canvas for a story in The Ladies’ Home Journal in 1940. 

Andrew Loomis, 1882-1959, American.  Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington. 

For real.





Male and Female, 1942-43, oil on canvas. 

Jackson Pollock, 1912-1956, American. I don’t recall where this is.





Untitled, ink on paper, 1950. 

Jackson Pollock, 1912-1956, American.  Whitney Museum of (North) American Art, NY




Romantic Landscape; oil on canvas, 1950.  

Ellsworth Kelly, 1923-2015. On long-term loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art







Manikins, 1951, egg tempera on paper.

  Paul Cadmus, 1904-1999, American.  Private collection on loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2015





Double Portrait with Still Life, 1960, oil and newspaper on canvas. 

Marcia Marcus, American born 1928.  Philadelphia Art Museum





Two Seated Figures, 1962-63, oil on canvas. 

Charles Cajori, 1921-2013, American.  Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington





Taboo, 1963, tempera on hardboard.  Jacob Lawrence, 1917-2000, American.  Philadelphia Art Museum.


In 1963, interracial marriage was illegal in 21 North American states.  In a suit begun in 1963 and ending in 1967 at the Supreme Court, a victorious court case – Loving vs. Virginia – ended such discrimination in every state.





Untitled (Man and Woman in a Spatial Illusion), 1968, graphite, pen and ink, charcoal, coloured pencil and crayon. 

Saul Steinberg, 1914-1999, American born Romania.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC







The Kuerners and detail, 1971, drybrush watercolour on paper.  Family collection.

Andrew Wyeth, 1917-2009, American. On exhibit at the Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford in the 100th year anniversary of the artist’s birth. 


The Kuerners were neighbours and friends of the Wyeths.  This composition evolved over time.  The artist shows how palpable was the hostility in this long-lasting marriage.





The Couple, 1971, cut and pasted printed paper, pencil, ink, and chalk on paper. 

May Stevens, American born 1924. I don’t know where this is.





Kinshasa at Noon, acrylic on canvas, 1980. 

Moke, 1950-2001, Congolese.  MOMA. NY





Untitled, mid-1980s, gouache on paper. 

Gilbert Lewis, American born 1945. On exhibit at the Woodmere Museum of Art, Philadelphia in 2020




Baron Sinister, 1986, acrylic on bedsheet. 

Walter Robinson, American born 1940.  Whitney Museum of (North) American Art


The artist is commenting on the influence of books of mass consumerism – here the man is a secret agent – on popular ideas of the romantic ideal





Tryst, c. 1990, acrylic on canvas.  Lance Balderson, American born 1941.  Promised gift to the Philadelphia Art Museum






Il Sogno del Cortile, 2004, serigraph. 

Kay Walkingstick, American, born 1935.  Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia





Vignette #10, 2007, acrylic on fiberglass. 

Kerry James Marshall, American born 1955.  On view in 2019/2020 at the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia’s ’30 Americans’ from the Rubell Family Collection.




In 2010 one day when I was taking photographs in west Ahmedabad (Gujerat State) in front of the Temple of Badr Kali, these two women touched my arm and gestured that I should photograph them together. 


They did not want to see the photo.

  They wanted me simply to see them and record them.  I had no way of asking their relationship but they may have been mother and daughter.  They left as soon as photo taken.




Njideka Akunyili Crosby 04 Bomb 137

I Refuse to Be Invisible, 2011, acrylic, charcoal, and xerox transfer on paper.

Njideka Akynyili Crosby, American born Nigeria 1983. Photo from the net






Two Nudes, oil on panel, 2014.

Daniel Sprick, American born 1953. Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington




Behind the Myth of Benevolence, 2014, oil on canvas. 

Titus Kaphar, American born 1976. In private collection. 

A representation of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) and his slave concubine, Sally Hemings (c. 1773-1835), a half-sister of his wife. 

By Sally Hemings, Jefferson had six children. 

Those who survived his death were freed in his will.  Sally Hemings was never formally freed although she was allowed to leave the Jefferson estate when Jefferson died. 

I haven’t heard of a reversal of a vote in 2002 of the Association which cares for Jefferson’s estate, Monticello, forbidding Sally Hemings’ descendants  from being buried there. 





Potato/Potata, 2015, unique ultrachrome pigmented print, spray paint, acrylic on canvas. 

Nina Chanel Abney, American born 1982.  Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia




American Domestic, 2016, digital pigment and serigraph, and detail. Willie Cole, American born 1955. Pennsylvania College of the Fine Arts


The painting above refers, of course, to one of the most famous of American paintings (below):  American Gothic.

The African-American couple have been reduced to cyphers: they are there to work:  the one in the field and the other in the house.  It is all about cotton and servitude.  The markings on the woman’s smock have been transformed into the shape of the iron. 

The man is not in front of the woman or in any way more important than she is. He has no more autonomy or agency than she does.  They are equal in their servitude. 




American Gothic, 1930, oil on beaverboard.  Grant Wood, 1891-1941, American.  Art Institute of Chicago



Broom Jumpers, 2019, cotton, silk, wool, velvet. 

Bisa Butler, American born 1973.  Mt. Holyoake College, MA





A Lesson in Longing, 2019, oil on canvas. 

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  2019 Whitney Biennial, NY






Armory I and II, 2020, oil. 

Caroline Coccia, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Penn/Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia.  No other information





She Fine and She Pretty, oil on canvas, 2020

Sarena Johnson, no DOB;  Master of Fine Art 2020 graduate at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia






7 thoughts on “Couples

  1. What a very astonishing essay in coupledom, Sarah – so many layers, angles, shades of meaning, genres. Lots of love to you 🎭 and another little twosome emoji.

    1. I am glad you enjoyed this, Tish.
      Sometimes it seems that love, ordinary, wholesome love has gone out of the window with so much else! But, of course, it hasn’t. And love back to you, too! Sarah

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