The University of Wisconsin Press

Psychology / Arts / Relationships


Intimate Creativity
Partners in Love and Art
Irving and Suzanne Sarnoff

"An inspiring read for anyone involved in or contemplating collaborative work with an intimate partner. The Sarnoffs touch in new ways on the real benefits compromise and collaboration can bring to the creative process and the equally real joys personal commitment can bring to the joint career." —Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein, co-authors of Sparks of Genius

Integrating the psychology of love and creativity, this pioneering book explores both how a couple's involvement as lovers influences their creative collaboration and how working together affects their relationship. Representing a variety of genres—painting, sculpture, photography, and installation art—the celebrated couples profiled here include, among others, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, and Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel.

Intrigued by this process of "intimate creativity," psychologists Irving and Suzanne Sarnoff (themselves partners in love and work) decided to conduct in-depth interviews with partners in visual art because they defy the supremely individualistic tradition of their field. Whatever their age or sexual orientation, these artist-couples combine their talents to form a collective identity as a professional team. Passionately intense about their shared commitment, they communicate endlessly to resolve conflicts and reach consensus. Providing mutual validation and support, they increase their productivity and the quality of their work; they minimize their fear and frustration and enhance their pleasure in being together.

The authors also draw on historical and contemporary literature about similar couples, ranging from Jean Arp and Sophie Taeuber to Gilbert and George to Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Stimulating and engaging, this book highlights the features of a unique collaborative process, considers the connection between creativity and sexuality, and suggests possibilities for any couple to expand their intimacy.

"An aesthetically intoxicating blend of in-depth interviews with creative duos, sensitive introspection of the authors' own life-long creative collaboration, and wise psychological analyses mixed with a heady dash of scholarship. Must reading for all those who love art, the mystery of artistic creation, and the dynamics of human interaction."—Philip Zimbardo, Stanford University

Irving and Suzanne Sarnoff have collaborated as authors and teachers. He is professor emeritus of psychology and she is a former lecturer in psychology, both at New York University. Co-authors of two books, one on human sexuality and the other on the psychology of marriage, they have made several national media appearances to discuss their research on how people create and develop loving relationships.

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

the cover of Sarnoffs' book is a photo of a creative couple in front of an urban sculpture.

December 2002

272 pp. 6 x 9
25 b/w photos

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Paper $19.95 t
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Cloth $39.95 s
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