In his debut, Bullen takes a new lens to the relationships shared between some of the world's best-known writers, artists and thinkers.
His subjects include: Lou Andreas-Salomé and Rainer Maria Rilke, Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O'Keeffe, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin. Bullen's selection of pairings was contingent on two criteria—that "both partners were artists" and "both saw the question of open relationships as part of their creative projects.” While many of the aforementioned believed "their innovations in love would bolster their careers in art," this proved to be only occasionally true. In most cases, their "innovations" came coupled with an utter lack of stability, crippling depression and indescribable loneliness. This was particularly true for Rilke, who abandoned his family for a Parisian adventure that he soon described as a "vast screaming prison.” Yet these well-known figures shared more than open relationships that often ended in heartache; they shared motivation as well. Rilke and Miller were both driven to create masterpieces in an effort to woo their lovers, while O'Keeffe, Kahlo and de Beauvoir used similar tact to earn the admiration of their artistically intimidating male suitors. Despite a mutual respect, many of these love affairs became stained by a mostly unspoken competitiveness, egos at war with one another while each creator struggled for recognition within the artistic community. The result: artists attempting to produce to their greatest potential without offending their muses.
A captivating exploration of artists seeking personal happiness amid the turmoil of professional success.