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Two Person Exhibitions

Is there any specific two person exhibitions that have really impressed you? It’s generally believed that this type of exhibition consisting of artworks by two artists is somewhat complicated to organize even if it’s curated by a promising curator with a brilliant theme and populist idea if he or she fails to keep a balance between the artists and their oeuvres.

Installation view of Marnie Weber & Justin John Greene , 2019 at Simon Lee Gallery, New York
Courtesy of Simon Lee Gallery, New York

Two person exhibition is different from either solo or group show. While a solo exhibition focuses on nothing but the artist and his or her artworks and oeuvres and a group delivers a curator or organizer’s thematic idea which connect all the participants’ idea, two person exhibition needs to show the tension and communion between two artists simultaneously, also between their artworks presented in a show corresponding to the main theme of the show, continuously persuading viewers and critics why this combination is essential, and why at this moment.

Installation view of Toulouse-Lautrec, Redon, 1931 at The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York
Photo by Peter A. Juley

It’s generally organized if the show aims to present the relations between two artists who share the same interest. When the artists collaborate, and develop the idea together, also this composition is considered. It’s also considered the best form when the artists or a curator plan(s) to experiment an idea of ‘relationship’ or ‘generation.’ But most of all, a curator decides to organize an exhibition by two artists if he or she believes these two are just enough to complete her curatorial concept of the show.

“While the work by Lautrec to be shown will outweigh that of Odilon Redon in quantity it is felt that the exhibition of the two men together is interesting in pointing two important phases of fin de siecle painting in France… … The Lautrec-Redon exhibition will present a significant polarity in the sharp realism of Lautrec and the misty symbolism of Redon.”

from the exhibition description of Toulouse-Lautrec, Redon at MoMA. (January 31 - March 2, 1931)

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