The proposition of this paper is that collaboration in artistic production is both a norm and an uncannily mysterious phenomenon. It is a norm that can be obscured from our awareness by a common belief in artistic individuality: the persistent insistence on recognition of individual authorship. Despite the pathologising narratives of genius provided by Freud, and the efforts of Barthes and Foucault in the late 1960s (which I do not intend to reprise here) to diffuse responsibility for art out into an unfinished historical and societal project, and more lately scepticism over essentialist thinking offered by post-modernism and deconstructive approaches (with Mary Orr’s Intertextuality perhaps a summary work in this vein), the individual artist is still championed in criticism, publishing, journalism and marketing. This paper is constructed as a series of reflections and observations (taking inspiration from Michael Frayn’s provocative 1974 work, Constructions, which itself owes a debt to Wittgenstein). The paper aims to define collaboration as a socio-political dynamic, one imbued with the ideals that Habermas identifies as enlightened. It offers a range of examples of collaboration in art and literature that might seem at first to have little to do with collaboration but aim to reveal the shifting, surprising nature of many collaborations.