In Classical Antiquity, inspiration was dependent upon the nine Muses, goddesses and daughters of Zeus presiding over the Arts and Sciences whose invocation bestowed divine creativity upon their acolytes. The term “muse” has since become synonymous with an individual who similarly inspires another. There exists a long tradition within the Fine Arts of muses, men and women whose looks, personalities, and attitudes encourage bursts of prolific creative energy. Often this relationship between artist and muse is, or becomes, intimately familiar. Lovers, spouses, children, and friends have all been sources of great inspiration as subjects within an artist’s oeuvre.
Focusing on pieces from the early 20th century to the present, Model and Muse: Intimate Connections reflects upon the fascinating and complicated relations between an artist and their inspiration. In works by Paul Cadmus, such as Winter #2 and NM 166, the artist’s master draftsmanship of the human form is apparent. Perhaps more rewarding, however, is viewing these pieces with an understanding of the familiar intimacy with which Cadmus crafted the images of his model and lover, Jon Anderson. The easy sense of comfort gleaned from Sally Michel’s paintings Brunette and Untitled [Seated Woman] comes from her use of friends and family as models in charmingly domestic scenes. Circe II, a serigraph by Will Barnet, features the artist’s wife Elena in silhouette. Barnett first sketched his wife’s silhouetted figure early in their marriage during a trip to Maine. Elena, and the pose, became mainstays in Barnet’s art, and suffuse his most famous works with a strength and fondness found within marital bonds.
The exhibition will also feature works by R. H. Ives Gammell, Milton Avery, George Platt Lynes, Moise Kisling, Michael Bergt, Mark Beard (Bruce Sargeant), and Alexander Brook, among others. In Model and Muse: Intimate Connections, bonds familial and otherwise play out over paintings, prints, photographs, drawings, and sculpture, revealing the intricacies of close working and private relationships.