In the famously sardonic words of Andy Warhol, "Fantasy love is much better than reality love." With Valentine's Day just round the corner, here's a rather cynical take on the lifespan of a relationship, from its heady beginnings to its bitter decline. We want to cheer up all those lonely and broken-hearted souls out there, so have a look at how six artists have tackled the six stages of a doomed relationship with their editioned work available now on FAM.
So you've met "the one" and are head over heels in love. You want to introduce them to your parents and build a future together. Or just maybe you want to stare at a literal representation of your emotional state preserved in a boiled sweet jar? Hirst's Love Struck takes a clinical, typically blunt view of Cupid's love dart. This multiple sees you caught and trapped—like one of the artist's animals preserved in formaldehyde, you are a specimen of vulnerability. See Damien Hirst's, Love Struck above.
Oh the joy of being in the honeymoon phase! Your heart is pounding and you are experiencing the thrill of discovering common pursuits and dreams with your new partner. With his work, Franz West pops that bubble with a very literal rendition of a honeymoon. Honey-colored and shaped like a full moon, West's work is temporal and poetically pessimistic. Characterized by being finite, honeymoons are a short point in time. Their duration may be life-affirming and inspiring but you'll soon come crashing down to earth like a lead balloon. Made of paper pulp that West designed to gently change in hue, the artist knows that a few months into a failing relationship our memories of the honeymoon period will alter too.
Now the honeymoon period is over you are into the day-to-day grind of the relationship. At this point you are getting to that awkward stage where you need to decide if this relationship has a future. There is no way to avoid it, now is the time to utter that timeless phrase "I love you" for the first time. But you can only say this if you really really mean it! Whispered in bedrooms throughout the land on Valentine's Day, Louise Bourgeois takes the phrase and strips it of all romantic connotations. Scrawled onto music paper the phrase echoes the trite litany of insincere expressions of love.
You know by now that this just isn't working—it was a mistake asking them to move in and you are finding their habits just too grim to bear. They are cutting their toe nails in the living room and hanging their old band posters in your bedroom. Peter Saville's Unknown Pleasures is a nod back to his days as the designer for Joy Division's album of the same name. Featuring the song Love Will Tear Us Apart Again—the ultimate lament to incompatibility and a morbid description of tempestuous relationship turned sour—, this is one to soften even the stoniest of hearts. "Why is the bedroom so cold turned away on your side? Is my timing that flawed our respect run so dry?"
To many this is the hardest stage of all, the time when you tell the person that it is over. Of course there are ways round this conversation. You can do what the musician Phil Collins did and break up with his wife via fax. No awkward conversations, no teary eyes—just a simple, anonymous fax. To those less cold-blooded and technologically savvy, however, there is no way round this conversation. To commemorate those break-up chats we've selected Fiona Banner's grouping of punctuation periods. Full stops, periods, whatever you want to call them, these marks symbolize those uncomfortable pauses, those awkward silences that follow the clichéd phrases "it's not you its me" or "I need some metime."
They've moved out, you have your flat back again, and you do what all love forlorn people do and get yourself a cat. Gert and Uwe Tobias' untitled lithograph perfectly encapsulates that moment when you realize that the only lasting and reliable relationship you will ever have will be between you and your furry friend.