Artists, Photographers, and the Creative Inspiration of the Muse


Article by Jeannine Chanin-Penn
Photo Credit: Dasha & Mari
Magazine: Issue #30

Artists, Photographers, And The Creative Inspiration Of The Muse

Artists, Photographers, And The Creative Inspiration Of The Muse

If you look up the definition of a Muse you will find:
(In Greek and Roman mythology) each of nine goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who preside over the arts and sciences.
A woman, or a force personified as a woman, who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.
synonyms: inspiration, creative influence, stimulus; formal afflatus

In more modern times, a muse has evolved to include a variety of individuals that profoundly inspires and influences one’s creative work. Quite typically we think of a muse as an exceptionally beautiful woman like Audrey Hepburn was to Givenchy, the can-can dancer Jane Avril was to artist Toulouse Lautrec or model and heiress Edie Sedgwick was to Andy Warhol. 

Often these are very complex, intimate relationships sometimes resulting in great love, great heartache, or both. With actress Mia Farrow, Woody Allen created a feminine young, innocent and their relationship went from a seemingly strong love to a very complicated mess that ended their relationship personally and professionally. 

Photographer Alfred Stieglitz fell in love with Georgia O’Keeffe’s artwork before falling in love with her. Stieglitz photographed her nude and exhibited the pictures, which caused a sensation. After divorcing his wife and marrying O’Keeffe, the photographer took hundreds more pictures of her.

Though they had their ups and downs, they continued to share their passion for art and each other until Stieglitz’s death in 1946.

And then there are the non-sexual, not classically beautiful women only muses. Martin Scorsese has a unique bond with Robert De Niro a man who he sees as his alter ego. Their collaboration has resulted in numerous award winning movies including “Raging Bull” and “Goodfellas” two of the greatest films of all times. 

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are another iconic duo in Hollywood whose list of films includes “Edward Scissorhands” and “Alice in Wonderland.” According to Burton, they communicate in a way that "wouldn't really make sense to the normal person." “It’s very nice to have someone that you can have a completely abstract conversation with and leave the room, feel like everything’s fine, and then realize that if you pick it apart, you have absolutely no idea what either of you said.”

The list of muses is endless especially among artists/photographers and their subjects, directors and actors, choreographers and dancers, writers and their characters and fashion designers and their models.

Who is or could be your muse? Is there someone whose style, face, essence inspires you? Could they be your model, your protégé…your constant inspiration? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

For now my greatest muse (who is my muse, and doesn’t know it) is my son. Besides being in love with his face, I think the relationship of parent and child is so intense that it is easy to find inspiration in so much of what they do, the expressions they make and in them just being a mirror of ourselves. 

The Empress Festival

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