From Beyonce To Tracey Emin: The Best Times Art Has Been Used For Relationship Payback

Hell hath no fury like an artist scorned...

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Is 'Lemonade' really about the indiscretions of Jay Z? That's the question everyone's asking of Beyonce's latest creative project.

But whilst Queen Bey's magnum opus is a piece of incredible catharcis, this is not the first time that art has been used as payback for a relationship gone awry.

From Taylor Swift to Frida Kahlo, Eamon to Tracey Emin, artists have continually used their work to highlight their partners' wrongdoings and to provide relief in trickier times. 

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Here are some of our favourite pieces of revenge art, from hit songs to revealing novels.

Grab the popcorn, it's juicy.  

Nora Ephron, 'Heartburn'

Writer Nora Ephron avenged herself for her cheating husband in the best way she knew how - by writing a book about it.

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Whilst seven months pregnant with their second son Max, Nora discovered that her husband, Carl Bernstein, was having an affair with their mutual friend, Margaret Jay, wife of former British Ambassador, Peter Jay, and daughter of former Prime Minister, James Callaghan.

Rather than tucking into a big tub of ice-cream, however, Nora decided to tell the world exactly how she felt about her husband's indiscretion, using it as the basis for her first published novel, Heartburn.

The book follows the story of Rachel Samstat, a food writer who is married to Washington correspondent, Mark Feldman. After finding out that he is cheating on her with socialite Thelma Rice, Rachel decides to get her own back, informing the Washington grapevine that Thelma has a venereal disease, before sticking it to her husband by throwing a key lime pie in his face.

Whether Nora threw pie at Bernstein is unknown, but with this book, she certainly got her revenge. 

Allison L. Wade, 'It's Not You'

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Breaking up with your partner and furiously displaying the texts to your friends in order to prove how much of an idiot they are, is something that we can all probably relate to. Yet one artist took this common break-up ritual to a whole other level, using it as the basis for her work.

In her series, 'It's Not You,' Allison L. Wade puts her break-up messages on display, showing her audience the cold, technological way in which her relationships have dissolved. The texts range from the text-book "I knew you would do this to me," to the truly out-there "ON ZANAX AT THE AIRPORT HAD A PANIC ATTACK PLEASE STOP CALLING ME" and "WTF!!! YOU LEFT FOR IBIZA WITHOUT ME."

Her exes might have wanted to avoid a face-to-face confrontation, but this would certainly have come as a slap in the face. 

Eamon, 'F**k It (I Don't Want You Back)'

Eamon gave a not-so-subtle message to his cheating ex through his single "F**k It (I Don't Want You Back)." With a delightful chorus of "F**k all those kisses, they didn't mean jack, f**k you you hoe, I don't want you back," Eamon's feelings about the affair were made pretty clear. The song must have resonated with listeners, however, as it topped the UK charts for four weeks back in 2004. 

Sophie Calle, 'Prenez Soin De Vous' ('Take Care Of Yourself')

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French conceptual artist, Sophie Calle, decided to take public revenge on her ex, by creating an exhibition that was dedicated solely to proving what a cold and calculating individual he had been.

After receiving a break-up email from her ex-lover, which ended with the line "prenez soin de vous,"  ("vous" being the formal, distant version of "you" in French), Sophie sent the note to 107 women from different professions, inviting them to offer their expert opinions on it. The women, who included a chess player, a medium, a clown and an intelligence officer, each replied with their assessments, which were then put together on display.

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Though the women came from all different facets of life, they were able to agree on one key thing: her ex had been truly awful. Whilst he was most likely expecting a singular reply, Sophie's ex was greeted by an army of women, united in their disgust of him. Talk about a powerful response. 

Frida Kahlo, 'The Two Fridas'

Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera's marriage was tumultuous to say the least.

Numerous indiscretions, which included an affair with Frida's sister, separate homes and studios, and countless break-ups, continued to plague their relationship, leading to their divorce in 1939.

Following the separation, Frida painted the self-portrait 'The Two Fridas,' which depicted her opposing personalities and emotions about the breakdown of her marriage. On the right is the Mexican Frida, loved and cared for by Diego.

On the left is the European Frida, the one that Diego had chosen to abandon.

The Mexican Frida represented her roots, and was a reminder of the woman Diego had fallen for.

The European Frida represented a new Frida, one that had begun to move out from under her husband's shadow, and establish herself as an independent artist.

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Though abandoned by her husband, Frida's painting, which remains one of her most popular to date, cemented her place in the art world. Using her painting to gain the respect she so needed and deserved, "The Two Fridas" became Frida's ultimate payback. 

Justin Timberlake, 'Cry Me A River'

Though we're still sad about the end of our favourite double-denim wearing couple - Britney and Justin - their relationship did inspire one of the greatest revenge songs of all time.

'Cry Me A River,' rumoured to be about Britney's infidelity, came with a rather pointed video, which certainly made Justin's feelings clear.

After seeing his girlfriend leave the house with another man - a woman who, coincidentally, looks a lot like Britney - an angry JT decides to trash the place, leaving his ex with charming goodbye present: a video of himself getting down and dirty with another woman. Ouch.

The song proved to be the ultimate payback, however, debuting at number two in the UK charts. He's bringing revenge back, yeah! 

Tracey Emin, 'My Bed'

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Like most people experiencing relationship troubles, Tracey Emin took to hiding out in her bed.

Unlike most people, however, Tracey decided to use this experience to her advantage, turning the isolated space she had created for herself into a work of art.

'My Bed' depicts the sorry state of a woman on the verge of a breakdown; empty bottles of alcohol line the floor, along with cigarette butts, condoms, and worn underwear.

The sheets are stained and messy, reflecting Tracey's troubled state of mind at the time. It is a raw and vulnerable piece, revealing the true pain of a difficult break-up.

Yet, in the best possible revenge, the space, which had once caused Tracey great sadness, ultimately came to give her great success; in 1999, the piece was nominated for the elusive Turner Prize.

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Tracey has continued to use her relationships as sources of inspiration for her work, such as in "Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995" and "I Can't Believe How Much I Loved You." Nothing says revenge like public success. 

Sam Taylor-Wood, 'F**k Suck Spank W*nk'

Sam Taylor-Wood's self-portrait, 'F*ck Suck Spank W*nk,' was inspired by a bad break-up.

In the photograph, Sam stands with her trousers by her ankles, wearing a t-shirt that features the words of the title.

Whilst the phrases speak of her sexual rejection, her defiant pose offers a strong message against it: she's going to own it. 

Taylor Swift, 'Dear John'

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If anyone's the Queen of pay-back art, it's Taylor Swift.

From 'I Knew You Were Trouble,' a song about her relationship with Harry Styles, to 'Begin Again,' which describes her relationship with Conor Kennedy, if you've ever wronged Taylor Swift, the world has surely heard about it.

Perhaps her most direct hit though was her song 'Dear John,' an explicit message to John Mayer about the many awful ways he had treated her during their relationship.

With lines such as "don't you think nineteen's too young to be played, by your dark twisted games," and "I lived in your chess game, but you changed the rules every day," John certainly didn't come off looking too well from it, reportedly saying he was left humiliated by the track. Looks like checkmate, from Taylor. 

Edvard Munch, 'Harpy'

But it's not just modern artists that have used art as a form of revenge.

Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch used his rocky relationship with Tulla Larsen as a source of inspiration for his work, depicting himself as a martyred victim.

Their story is soap opera worthy: in true stalker style, Tulla pursued Edvard relentlessly, attempting to trick him into marriage.

The turbulent relationship went on to have disastrous consequences, with one argument leading to Edvard being shot in the hand. Yet in true payback style, Edvard chose to channel his misery into his paintings, showing the world what a cruel woman Tulla could be.

In his painting 'Harpy,' Edvard depicts a birdlike woman, about to rip a man to shreds. Though she caused him a great amount of emotional and physical pain, Tulla definitely came off worst;  immortalised as a crazed monster is perhaps not the best way to be remembered. 

Marvin Gaye, 'Here, My Dear'

Marvin Gaye did Lemonade before Lemonade was even a thing. After his first wife, Anna, filed for divorce, Marvin took to the studio to write an album about the experience, telling the world exactly how he felt.

With tracks such as 'When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You,' and pointed lyrics such as "you know, when you say your marriage vows, they're supposed to be for real," Marvin made sure he got his side of the story across. Though the album was a critical and commercial failure on its release, it has since been hailed as a landmark in Marvin's career, being seen as one of his greatest produced albums. Revenge dish served. 

Images: Getty

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