Portrait of a Muse

CALVIN stares at GIRLFRIEND.
GIRLFRIEND feels herself being stared at.
CALVIN stares at GIRLFRIEND like she’s the only girl in the world.
He stares at her with new eyes.
He stares at her and he is inspired.
GIRLFRIEND grows warmer in his gaze.
She no longer sits, she poses, she fills herself.
She is beautiful.
She is a muse.
She warms and fills with CALVIN’s attention.
They are both warm and light and full.
And they are so lovely with each other.

In a previous post, we talked about the Mother’s challenge of posing, consciously, for a portrait under the Girlfriend’s gaze. As a counterpoint, we see the Girlfriend as she is filled with the love of the artist, transforming into a muse. Later, Mother tells of being painted in her youth by a handsome young man whose attentions she won as if in battle.

What might any of this look like from the artist’s point of view? How does the male artist view the muse?

GUSTAV KLIMT
Klimt’s intricate, radiant, gold leaf portraits are loaded with symbolism, and often feature women of exquisite beauty. I’m reminded of his work in particular in relationship to the stage directions regarding the Girlfriend’s transformation (above).

 

PABLO PICASSO
Notorious as a womanizer and renowned as a genius, Picasso was inspired by a series of muses, two of whom are depicted here.

 

MARIANO FORTUNY
Fortuny spent over four decades painting and photographing his wife, Henriette, as he pursued a critically lauded career that spanned textile design, to scenic design and lighting innovations, to high fashion.

 

HENRI MATISSE
Here’s a small selection of works portraying his muse, Lydia Delectorskaya.

 

ALFRED STIEGLITZ
His longtime partner and fellow artist Georgia O’Keefe featured prominently in his oeuvre.

 

MAN RAY
The avant garde Dadaist spent nearly his whole life working side by side with his partner, muse, and fellow artist Lee Miller.

 

ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE
Another artist pair, Mapplethorpe and singer/poet Patti Smith were both frequent subjects of his photographs.

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