The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book Couples Discourse

Couples Discourse

Edited by Micaela Amateau Amato and Joyce Henri Robinson
  • Copyright: 2006
  • Dimensions: 9 x 11
  • Page Count: 136 pages
  • Illustrations: 66 color illustrations
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-911209-65-5
  • Distributed by the Penn State Press
    for The Palmer Museum of Art

In his book A Lover's Discourse, Roland Barthes attempted to theorize the language used by lovers to describe each other. It is arguably a text about loneliness, suggesting that even romantic language confesses the distance that always exists between people—if we could achieve perfect unity with others, language would not be necessary. This book is about how "couples" discourse—about the ways in which artists cope with the social connections and practicalities of being artists in a couple. It is about the commonalities as well as the differences, the intimacies as well as the public articulations—in other words, the negotiations that are required in any relationship.

It might be a truism to say that the very notion of "the couple" is undergoing significant transformation at the moment. Legal changes now allow many same-sex marriages in the United States, even as increasing numbers of people both gay and straight choose to enjoy unions and family structures beyond such conventional forms. Now is, of course, the perfect time to investigate more carefully the ways in which artists construct and articulate their position as "couples."

Co-curated by Joyce Henri Robinson, curator, and Micaela Amato, professor of art and women's studies, Penn State, Couples Discourse features work by twenty-one artist-couples including Eleanor and David Antin, Nene Humphrey and Benny Andrews, Patricia Cronin and Deborah Kass, Joyce and Max Kozloff, Helen and Brice Marden, Gladys Nilsson and Jim Nutt, Julie Burleigh and Catherine Opie, Roy Dowell and Lari Pittman, Sylvia Plimack Mangold and Robert Mangold, Lisa Sigal and Byron Kim, Nancy Spero (recently widowed), Deborah Willis (recently divorced), and Betty and George Woodman.

Micaela Amateau Amato is Professor of Art and Women’s Studies at the Pennsylvania State University.

Joyce Henri Robinson is Curator at the Palmer Museum of Art and Affiliate Associate Professor in the History of Art Department, The Pennsylvania State University. Her numerous publications include Through the Looking Glass (2003), also distributed by Penn State Press.

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