Old and New Wives’ Tales

Though I’m not aware of any artist’s wife who has gone as far as Claire in submerging her own talent for the sake of a talented husband, there are several examples of husband-wife artist marriages in which the man was far better known, including famous Hamptons-based couples Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner and Willem and Elaine De Kooning, who often promoted her husband’s work rather than her own.

About the only pair where the wife is more prominent today are Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, though he was more famous during their lifetimes. In the 1930s, she would tell people that she was the better artist (she had to tell them because it wasn’t an accepted truth), but she really wasn’t recognized until the 1970s, when feminist scholars started reevaluating works by women. Also, he made immovable frescoes and she smartly made all those striking self-portraits.