…. or rather, the wife of someone who’s famous, or rich (or both). Sadly, being known solely as the wife (it happens less often to husbands) of somebody rich and/or famous is not as rare as I’d like, but even when you intend not to do that, it sometimes happens.
As one of my recent Artists Dates (see last week’s post if you want to know more about this), I went to an exhibition at a local gallery – one showcasing the work of two artists. I had no inkling of there being any significance to why they were being exhibited alongside one another. I – perhaps naively – assumed the commonality was that both were abstract artists. Except, it turns out that they’re married.
Now abstract art isn’t an area I know well, but my daughter does. So, naturally I discussed it with her. I name-checked the wife first because they’d attended the same art college and had an overlapping interest in textiles. My daughter didn’t know her or her work but, when I mentioned her husband, him she knew…. because he’s well-known, even, dare I say it, famous – in the world of abstract art. And then she wanted to kick herself for being that person.
Of course, my daughter wasn’t actually doing anything genuinely reprehensible – for the husband is the well-known one. He’s also a fair bit older and quite a character. His pieces are large and striking, while her work is smaller in scale and more gentle. In the world of abstract art – big and bold tends to be better known. Still, none of us want to be that person.
As is often the way, it got me to thinking. How does it work to have two egos in the same relationship, especially you’re both in the same industry? Does one person have to take a back seat? Does the one with the greater fame feel obliged to give a leg-up to their less well-known partner? Is it easier to be in different industries when you’re both striving for success, even fame? Is it true that behind every successful person there is another person in a support role? And are those support roles still more often performed by the wife?
What do you think?
© Debra Carey, 2022