“Often the Muse will not respond to direct and logical requests. She must be lured in with the playful and gentle” – Jill Badonsky
Examining examples of unique and classic art displays one major similarity: the Artist and the Muse. The concept of a muse dates back to ancient Greek mythology, where “Muses” were goddesses who inspired the creation of art in various forms.
In more recent history, Leonardo da Vinci’s muse led to him painting what is perhaps the most well-known art piece of all time, the Mona Lisa. Andy Warhol’s muse, Edie Sedgwick, led to Warhol creating several short films in the 1960s. And the 1950’s classic, All About Eve, follows the story of a young actress who through manipulation and blackmail sets out and succeeds at replacing her Muse, an older actress. Given the role of muses to artists: Who is more important?
“A muse can be a mirror: a reflection of the artist’s desires, anxieties, dreams and needs” – Vince Aletti
Muses are the sources of artists’ creative inspiration. An artist can exist without a muse, but a muse cannot exist without an artist. However, could the art exist without a muse? In the creation of art, the question is, would the artist have created the art he/she did without his/her muse? Artists still have the skills, talent, and potential to create great art, but would the inspiration have truly occurred in them without something to spark that particular instance of creativity and drive? Would Leonardo da Vinci have created the Mona Lisa without his muse? Would the art world even know his name today if it hadn’t been for the creativity his muse stirred within him?
It’s hard to answer those questions; after all, it’s not as if we could know the answers. However, upon examination, it becomes evident that the artist is definitely more important than the muse. A muse is simply a person whose actions or person inspire an artist; a muse doesn’t necessarily do anything to cause the artist’s inspiration except be who they are and do what they do.
The artist, on the other hand, is the one creating the art; and in some ways, the muse is actually another of the artist’s creations. Think about it. An artist’s “muse” is only something beyond any other person in the world because the artist sees something in that person that inspires them. And it is the artists’ inherent talent and skills that result in the finished art. It is of course possible that Leonardo da Vinci wouldn’t have created the Mona Lisa without his muse. It is also possible that he would have. What we do know, however, is that the Mona Lisa wouldn’t exist without da Vinci.