In her first non fiction book, National Book Award finalist Francine Prose offers a brilliant, wry, deliberately provocative examination of the complex relationship between the artist and his muse.
There is no ideal muse, rather as many variations on the theme as there are individual women who have had the luck or misfortune to find their destine conjoined with that of a particular artist. What are we to make of the seven-year relationship between the child Alice Liddell (who inspired Alice in Wonderland) and the Oxford don who became Lewis Carroll?
Lou Gala, and Yoko Ono all give the lie to the feminist stereotype of the muse as a passive beauty put on a pedestal and oppressed by a male artist. However, the artists and muses who were genuine partners, true collaborators, such as ballerina Suzanne Farrell and choreographer George Balanchine, are a rarity.
What do the nine muses chosen by Francine Prose have in common? They were all beautiful, or sexy, or gifted with some unconventional appeal. All loved, and were loved by, their artists, and inspired them with an intensity of emotion akin to eros. For these artists, the love of - or for - their muses provided an essential element for the melding of talent and technique to create art.
The muses and their artists include: Alice Liddell and Lewis Carroll; Lou Andreas-Salome and Sigmund Freud; Gala Dali and Salvador Dali; Lee Miller and Man Ray; Charis Weston and Edward Weston; Suzanne Farrell and George Balanchine; Yoko Ono and John Lennon.