The art of friendship

From sketching to sculpture and painting to poetry, creating art can be a lonely game. But when two artists really connect, sparks often fly and lifelong bonds are formed

For all artists, infamous, iconic, or lesser known, friendships are important. Prepare to be inspired by these art friendship icons.

Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon

Drinking, gambling and arguing were said to be the cornerstones of an inseparable friendship between artists Lucian and Francis. They could often be found in Soho’s Gargoyle Club, where the latter was known to shout ‘Champagne for my real friends – real pain for my sham friends!’ They worked together almost every day, creating one of the most notorious friendships in modern art, although, like many artist alliances, they
did part ways in anger.

Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol

New York in the 1980s and the art scene was an experimental melting pot – a time known for its parties, art dealings and commerce, and an unexpected friendship between Andy and Jean – Michel. They ate breakfast together, partied together and worked together, although Andy did once say this of their collaborations: ‘[Jean-Michel] came up and painted over a painting that I did, and I don’t know if it got better or not.’

George Harrison and Ravi Shankar

Beatles’ guitarist George formed an instant bond with Indian music maestro Ravi when the pair met in London in the mid-1960s. Their kinship saw Ravi agree to teach George the sitar, a sound the latter was keen for his band to incorporate. The pair, who were
said to share a “karmic connection”, collaborated on many projects.

Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin

One of the art world’s most famous and tempestuous friendships, the impressionist painters were said to have had a love-hate relationship. Most of us know that Vincent chopped off his own ear, thought to be because of a row between the two, but a recent theory claimed Paul actually did the chopping. All that aside, they continued to write to each other until Van Gogh’s death.

JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis

A chance meeting and a long walk in Oxford would change everything for these two fantasy-literature heavyweights. The writers talked about religion and myth as they
strolled, it led CS Lewis back to a previously broken faith and inspired the creation of The Chronicles of Narnia. The conversation also prompted Tolkien to create The Lord of the Rings. They fell out later on, but still praised each other from afar

This article was originally published in Breathe Issue 26, Fearless & Flowing - View Magazine

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