For These 10 Contemporary Artists, Art Runs in the Family

Kat Herriman
Nov 22, 2015 1:00PM

Throughout history, there have been families for whom artistic talent seems to run in the blood: Ernst and Gustav Klimt, Henriette and Andrew Wyeth, Klara and Hanna Liden, to name a few. And for some, art becomes not only a shared bond but a shared pursuit as well—take for example, the unique working relationship of twins Doug and Mike Starn, two artists who collaborate completely on their immersive installations, or Jake and Dinos Chapman, known for working together to craft grotesque dioramas and irreverent sculptures.

While artistic prowess doesn’t always run in the family, these five pairs of artist siblings (including three sets of twins) make a good case for good genes.

Simon and Nikolai Haas

B. 1984, Los Angeles, California.

Live and work in Los Angeles, California

Nikolai and Simon Haas. Photo by Mason Poole.

Working under the moniker the Haas Brothers, Nikolai and Simon have captured the imagination of the art and design world with their whimsically beasty furniture. Almost cartoonish, their furry lounge chairs with cast-bronze feet and genitalia-inspired ceramics bring together sophisticated fabrication techniques with cheeky imagery. Their newest collection of work, “Afreaks,” which will be on view at the upcoming edition of Design Miami/, brings together their signature playfulness with fantastical beadwork. Co-created with the help of female artisans in Cape Town, the beaded figures and chairs have an infectious exuberance.


Alex and Vanessa Prager

B. 1979 and 1984, Los Angeles, California.

Live and work in Los Angeles, California

PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 19: (L-R) Alex Prager and Vanessa Prager attend the 'Alex Prager Exibition' Press Preview at Galeries Lafayette on October 19, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Kristy Sparow/WireImage)


Photographer Alex Prager’s hauntingly cinematic shots of public spaces and crowds have been on view across the globe—a solo survey is currently on view at the Galeries des Galeries in Paris. Meanwhile, Vanessa Prager, her younger sister, looks to be following in her Alex’s footsteps as an up-and-coming painter on the West Coast. Thick and gloppy, Vanessa’s abstracted portraits seem to be in direct opposition to Alex’s crisp shadows and her almost-frozen aesthetic. Despite the differences, their work feels aligned in its ability to transport the viewer to a nostalgic place.

Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo

B. 1974, São Paulo, Brazil.

Live and work in São Paulo, Brazil

Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo. Courtesy of OSGEMEOS. © Ig. Aronovich/ Lostart

Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo’s work first came into the public eye when the twins began painting large-scale murals across the architecture of their native São Paulo. Cartooning from an early age, drawing is at the heart of the brothers’ joint practice, which has migrated from the street into the gallery under their shared moniker, OSGEMEOS (suggesting the Portuguese word for twins “gemêos”). Recognized for their signature yellow characters and use of patchwork, the brothers always seem to inject an element of surprise into their work. Their site-specific giants tend to pop up where you’d least expect it, but that is just part of the fun.

Jane and Louise Wilson

B. 1967, Newcastle, U.K.

Live and work in London, U.K.

Jane and Louise Wilson. Photo by TAPE, 2012. © Jane and Louise Wilson and 303 Gallery, New York.

Working together since 1989, identical twins Jane and Louise Wilson share a studio in London, but their work usually takes them on the road. Drawn to stories of disaster and isolation, the Wilsons seek out and document contemporary ruins—H-Bomb test sites, deserted Russian space-training centers, decomposing sanatoriums—with a combination of photography and film. Video installations, like Gamma (1999), which is now on view at the Schaulager in Munchenstein, Switzerland, breathe new life into these forgotten time capsules by giving the viewer an opportunity to meditate on these dark eclipses of history.

Rob and Christian Clayton

B. 1963 and 1967, Dayton, Ohio and Denver, Colorado.

Live and work in Los Angeles, California

Rob and Christian Clayton. Courtesy of the Clayton Brothers and Mark Moore Gallery.

Collaboration comes organically to the Clayton Brothers, a painterly twosome who like to improvise in tandem. The brothers take turns working on a piece—reacting intuitively to the other’s additions. The resulting sculptures and paintings convey their push-pull process through a circus of comic surrealism and a repetition of symbols, patterns, and themes. Intertwining their wills through form, the brothers engage the nature of communication. 

Kat Herriman