What exactly is the artist’s muse?

The Muses Clio, Euterpe and Thalia

A good work of art is indispensable for inspiration, but inspiration for creation is not easy to come by. Poets often compare inspiration to the advent of the muse, who spends their lives searching for their own muses for creative inspiration.

In Greek mythology, the muse was the collective name for the nine daughters of the god Zeus. They preside over literature, art and science, and often appear at gatherings of gods or heroes, singing and dancing and showing their style, bringing a lot of joy and joy to the party.

Legend has it that whoever gets the heart of the muse will be like holding a pen of God.

Claude Lorrain, Apollo and the Muses on Mount Helicon, 1680

Later, European poets often compared the inspiration for creation to the arrival of the muse, and for different artists, their “muse” was different.

What inspires people’s endless sixth sense, everyone may have a very different answer.

The Muses Melpomene, Erato and Polyhymnia

Feminine charm

The legendary muses are incredibly beautiful, and their beauty has inspired countless poets to create passion. In the real world, those beautiful women have also become the muses behind many great artists.

Wilhelm Adolphe Bouguereau, The Birth of Venus, 1879

From the Venus of the Renaissance to the mysterious Mona Lisa to the White Swan in the opera, the graceful posture and smile of the beautiful women in the artworks all the yearning for “beauty” and light up the light of inspiration for the artist.

The ballet dancer of artist Degas


For artist Degas, the spirited ballerina was his lifelong muse.

He is said to have liked slender, coherent lines that he considered the only symbol of elegance, and the elegant and romantic ballerina perfectly matched the artist’s pursuit of beauty.

Degas’s dancers are graceful, dancing on tiptoe or bending over to tie their shoelaces, and there seems to be no other subject that fascinates him more than the girls in tututs.

Degas loves ballet dancers and has a unique understanding of beauty.

And the love for his partner also inspires the artist.

There are many works of art in art history that focus on lovers, and in the classic masterpiece “The Kiss” by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, a pair of lovers who hugged and kissed each other is believed to be his and the love of his life, Emily Frog.

Gustav Klimt, The Kiss, 1907-1908

Klimt met Emily Frog in the early 1890s, and since then he has spent summers with the Flogg family on the shores of Lake Artel in Austria. During that time, Klimt not only loved sweetly, but also created a lot of landscape paintings, forming a personal unique painting style, and all this is indispensable to Flog’s credit.

Emily Frog

Although Klimt has been entangled with many celebrities, Frog remains the love of his life. Although they never married, Flogh remained by Klimt’s side until his death in 1918.

Artist Gustav Klimt with lover Emily Frog

Gala is known to be the lifelong love of the artist Dalí, but she is also his muse, and as an agent she helped Dalí penetrate surrealism into sculpture, decoration and more.

In his religious paintings in his later years, he painted Gala as Our Lady to express her help to his creative career.

Works by artist Dalí inspired by his lover Gala

Dali once said of Gala: “

She taught me everything, she taught me how to dress. She was an excellent angel in every way, and she awakened my classicism.

In fact, not only Dalí, many artists have been inspired by this goddess, and she is also known as the muse of surrealism in the European art world.

Dalí and Gala

Inspiration from bathing?

I don’t know if you have such an experience, when you bathe comfortably after a day of fatigue, listening to the sound of dripping water, how many wonderful ideas appear in your mind.

Jean-Léon Jérôme, Harem Terrace, 1856

According to the survey, 72% of people have burst out of inspiration while bathing. The sound of babbling water, warm water temperature – the bathroom is the perfect place for inspiration.

Jean-Jacques Ene “Suzanne in the Bath”

As for why bathing inspires, Professor John Cuneo of Drexel University in Philadelphia explains: “

In this state, people’s sensitivity to the surrounding environment is weakened, and their inner thoughts will naturally become clear and active.

Artist Francesco Ridolfi took the bathroom of a guest room in a hotel as a scene to create the photographic work “Room 322”.

Legend has it that Archimedes discovered the principle of buoyancy while bathing. One day, when he lay in a tub filled with warm water, he noticed that the water was overflowing outward, and at the same time he felt his body slowly floating, so he had an epiphany and thought that he could measure the weight of an object by measuring its displacement.

Comedy genius Stephen Chow also said that many classic lines in movies are thought up in the shower: “

I don’t even know why, anyway, when I take a bath, the water rushes on my head, and special inspiration will come out, so I especially like to take a bath, and each bath takes two hours.

Famous musician Beethoven

Beethoven did not want to take a bath because of the chronic pain caused by lead poisoning, but this did not prevent him from feeling inspired by bathing. He likes to pour water on his hands, feel the sound of the water and find the rhythm of the music, and has composed many classics in this way.

Have a glass of wine when you’re not inspired

Wine is also one of the indispensable tools for Chinese and foreign artists to capture inspiration.

The poet Li Bai has formed an indissoluble bond with wine throughout his life, and he used wine to meet friends and borrow wine to help him enjoy, and it is said that most of his famous stories were written in a state of half-drunkenness and half-awakeness.

Famous novelist Hemingway

The writer Hemingway was an avid drinker, and he believed that drinking could bring him creative inspiration, he often said: “

People can only truly feel their presence when they are drunk.

“It is said that he drank absinthe before meals, red wine between meals, and whiskey and soda after meals. Not only that, but he also often soaked in bars to drink to eliminate the fatigue caused by writing.

Hemingway, who was addicted to alcohol

When it comes to wine, you can’t fail to mention the famous mugwort in the art world. From the elites of high society to the poor artists, almost everyone fell under the pomegranate skirt of absinthe. Absinthe was originally used as a medicinal drink to cure all diseases, but it was rumored to be able to make people hallucinate and inspire creation, so it was slowly sought after by many artists.

Jean Belaude, “The Drinkers”

Many artists have created paintings of absinthe, which they affectionately call “Green Elf”. Manet and Gauguin, as well as Van Gogh and Picasso, were loyal followers of this aromatic drink, and they regarded absinthe as an artistic muse.

Victor Oliver, The Absinthe Drinker

Albert Maiyan, The Green Muse

The dramatist Wilde once said: “

After the first cup of absinthe, you see the outline of all things as you wish; After the second cup, you see everything becomes an illusion, and finally you see all the truth, which is the cruelest thing in the world.

Edward Manet, The Absinthe Drinker, 1859

There is a similar description of Van Gogh’s drinking state in the Biography of Van Gogh: “

He sketched in the countryside of the Alcazar during the day, and the golden sun made the lonely beast thirsty, so he plunged into the arms of the ‘green muse’ in the starry night.

“The charm of a glass of absinthe ignited the flame of the European artistic revival.

Vincent van Gogh, Absinthe and the Bottle

Inspiration is not the same as plagiarism

Plato once said: “

Inspiration is the soul’s rare recollection and contemplation of things in heaven or the upper realm in a state of madness, without which no matter who is obsessed with poetry, no matter who will always stand outside the door of poetry.

“For an artist, inspiration is like the sky is like a bird, with its care is like a divine help, but without inspiration it will be like walking with the dead and struggling.

The muse that inspires people

Although artists get inspiration in different ways, they often get involved in plagiarism lawsuits. Jeff Koons’s artistic career seems to never escape the suspicion of plagiarism, and one of his sculptures called “Fait d’Hiver” is said to have many similarities to the 1985 advertising of the same name by clothing brand Naf-Naf.

An advertisement created by clothing brand Naf-Naf in 1985

Fait d’Hiver by Jeff Koons

Just two weeks after the alleged plagiarism of Fait d’Hiver, he was again accused by the wife of photographer Jean-François Borré that his 1988 sculpture called Naked completely copied her husband’s photography.

Jeff Koons’s 1988 sculpture Nude

While the president of the Centre Pompidou defended Jeff Koons, he noted: “

It’s very instinctive to create from items you buy from the store or pictures you see in the press.

However, how to define the borrowing and plagiarism of inspiration is still an enduring hot topic in the art world.

The movie “Yves Saint Laurent”

In the 90s, the famous fashion brand YSL once sued an American designer for plagiarism, because the designer also used a bow in clothing, and the bow was regarded as a classic style of YSL. However, the court ultimately ruled against YSL because the bow is a common element of the design, not the exclusive one.

Designer Elie Saab Fall/Winter 2014 womenswear inspired by the work of American abstract painter Mark Rothko.

This case shows us that there is still an essential difference between borrowing inspiration and plagiarism. Picasso once said: “

Good artists copy, great artists steal.

This means that inspiration is not just copied, but can be transformed into a new design based on one’s own thinking.

For artists, life is full of inspiration, and how to get the essence from it to create their own works may be a question that everyone needs to think about.

Wonderful recap:

He was a voyeur, Hemingway’s drinking buddy, and a photo exhibition swept through the Pompidou, France!

This world-class sculpture exhibition is actually waiting for once in ten years!

[Editor, Text/Chen Ziyi]

The ballet dancer of artist Degas

The ballet dancer of artist Degas