9 first dates: Dating artists and other indoor sports

Updated: Jun 30

There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to dating and maintaining relationships with artists. Going by the accounts of the spouses of many artists, sometimes artists could be a nightmare to live with, and yet here we are, unable to shake off their beckoning allure, who push extremes when it comes to accepted social mores. We imagine what it's like to go on a first date with famous artists: Who would you date?


Redirecting love


Courtesy: The Guardian

You are likely to bump into this gentle giant at a Picasso retrospective. You would end up agreeing with him when he says that life is violent, and so much more than his art. Don't let his shyness throw you off, you will end up at his famous South Kensington studio by the end of the day. At one hand you would be struck by the meticulous library adorned by Nietzsche, Proust, Lacan, Deleuze, and Eliot (No points for spotting Georges Bataille!), on the other hand you would have to help him clean up the cluttered rooms filled with empty paint tubes, photos, clippings, magazines, slashed canvases, and paint-splattered walls. You'd realise the studio is like his mind inside out after sharing a bottle of champagne with him while he talks about George Dyer. He'll let you pick the movie: Battleship Potemkin or Midsommar, choose wisely since this is a test. Be careful not to offend his nanny/ housekeeper though, and do not agree to shoplift shoepolish for him.


Factory Boy


Courtesy: The Andy Warhol Museum

Jokes about having soup for the first course won’t fly with Andy Warhol. Lou Reed might snicker but it would be safe not to offend your date right away as you enter the Factory. Before you settle down among the silver foil covered surfaces, Warhol announces a change of plans. You've got to visit Studio 54 while he has you here of course. Wait, was that Nico who just brushed past you? With not much time to party, you follow him as his obsession of documenting takes over and he starts threading his famous friends with his camera.

If you have followed your date's famous 'Andy Warhol's New York City diet' up till now, worry not since a simple dinner of bread and jam sandwiches in front of the TV will make you both surprisingly happy. But that comes later, next stop: Serendipity 3! For now, a bowl of cherries and a race to spit out the pits farther than him.


Heart shaped box


Courtesy: David Zwirner Gallery, London

If your date has been called the James Dean of postwar art and architecture, you are bound to have high expectations and Matta-Clark definitely won't disappoint. Walking around New York city would be a treat by itself; add a heady mix of an irreverent artist trained in architecture who literally took a chainsaw to the buildings and you'd have a date of a lifetime. Dinner at the experimental restaurant he helped co-found, FOOD, would be a gastronomic delight since it was one of the first restaurants in New York to serve sushi. You could see John Cage or Robert Rauschenberg cooking as guest chefs behind the open kitchen, and for $4 you could buy a necklace made out of bones taken off from your plate. If all goes good, maybe you could convince him to watch Kogonada's Columbus with you while the New York skyline peeps through the window. (Check out our list of recommended art movies on Netflix here.)



Cowboy Jack


Courtesy: Sotheby’s

Pollock's Wild West persona seems to be at odds with his lingering hesitation as he keeps apologizing for not being verbal enough. Even as an aficionado of good bourbon, he is enthusiastic about French cooking and classic American comfort food as well. As he drives deeper into the countryside looking for a drive-in theater, he reveals his apple pie winning a local contest. Unfussy diner burgers would have to do for now since his high end cookware is stowed away. He swears by Charlie Parker and the soundtrack to the car ride is all jazz classics. Who could blame him?


Calling Sophie


Courtesy: Interview Magazine

This could be the meet-cute of your dreams (or your nightmares, we don't judge!). Tread carefully, this date might make you push legal and ethical boundaries, but fun surely will be had by all. Spend a day shadowing Calle as she follows various people around in Paris, letting go of control as the people you both are following pick the restaurant for dinner or a movie to watch as she takes notes about them in a journal in the dark theater. You'd probably end up with a bottle of wine at a graveyard by her side as she makes up backstories from the names on the tombstones. As the sun rises, abort the mission when you are invited to her day job as a concierge to rummage through a hotel guest's personal belongings.


Waiting for Banksy


Banksy’s Mobile Lovers (2014), Courtesy: The Independent



First of all, congratulations! You have achieved what many doxxers and fans (and law enforcement officials) haven't been able to do. You are going to meet the ridiculously brilliant graffiti artist who can't seem to avoid controversy with every move he makes. His supposed team works round the clock to maintain his anonymity, and not to your surprise he has left you clues for a treasure hunt at the appointed rendezvous point. It could go two ways: either you spend your Saturday night being chased by security personnel and police dogs or you finally meet Banksy and hold the stencil steady while he creates his newest artwork in a London bylane.



A word or two with Ren Hang


Courtesy: The New York Times

Hang's ethereal aesthetics and emotionally crushing poetry will be the death of you. Dating him would be straight out of an indie movie: probably watching the sun set against the polluted Beijing skyline as you both sit on a fence chomping on watermelon slices. Keep still when he whips out his Minolta to capture you licking watermelon juice off your fingers. You'll be touched when he says he does what he does to make himself happy, and not to be contrarian.


Funny Valentine


Courtesy: E-Flux


You walk into an art museum and gravitate towards a crowd around the museum docent who seems...off. You watch her increasingly grow animated while she stacks up the superlative adjectives onto mundane things, as far as stopping by the cafeteria and the washroom to admire them. As the listeners get uncomfortable with her digressions and finally catch on to Jane Castelton aka Andrea Fraser's performance piece, you realise why she zeroed down the museum for your first date. You can hardly keep up with her acerbic wit and brilliant mind as she deftly tears down your preconceptions about the art world. She is great at impressions and makes you laugh with her take on a stuffy one-hit wonder artist known for pickling sharks and an insufferable patron who is a closeted Trump supporter. Phew! Finally someone who doesn't shy away from politics on the first date!


Just kids




Another meet-cute to the rescue! You'd probably meet Mapplethorpe at a second-hand bookstore, and gushing with him over French poetry will spill over into a date at a diner for an egg cream and cheese sandwiches. You'd romp about the streets in Greenwich village and camp out at Central Park for a while. Future plans to go on a trip to Coney Island would materialize as you both stay up the night listening to records in his loft. He'll make you pretty bead necklaces and an even more touching collage with the first photograph he takes of you. If all goes well, maybe you'd end up with him at the Chelsea Hotel.


At the end of the day, artists are creative professionals indeed. They are inspiring and just so equipped with an outlook for experimenting- you'd never have a dull day with someone who thinks out of the box for a living. Most artists have had difficult beginnings, and ideally they would be more accepting of your vulnerabilities. They would be encouraging of your own endeavours as well and would likely have a lower threshold for complacency. That's all anybody would probably want.


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