Musing on the Muse

I am reading about Suzanne Valadon, a fine artist in her own right but unfortunately for her usually best known for being the wayward mother of Maurice Utrillo and  muse (and often lover) to artists more famous than herself: Lautrec, Renoir, Degas and Modigliani and the composer Satie. This  set me musing on the muse.

Not all artists have a muse but I have had more than one. There was most notably Nadine, just a girl of 17 when we met in the early 90s. We worked together for about 4 years. We had no relationship at all beyond the confines of the studio and yet she was so important that without her I would not only have been unable to realise the images that I did, but would have not had the momentum to move from mere commercial photographer to artist. A muse is a kind of lover, she makes the heart race, the stomach tighten, her presence fills you, you look forward to collaborating with an excitement that makes you want to burst, every new idea you want to share with her, to try it out as soon as possible, to experiment, to bandy ideas around – but she’s there as the means of incarnating one’s dreaming,  only she can make the amorphous, nebulous idea into a something, a thing to behold. Dreams have a habit of vanishing into thin air if one tries to  get them down on paper, but the muse makes the stuff of dreams metamorphose into the work of art – the dream come true. That dream come true is a surprise to the artist himself, he looks at it as if it had been done by someone else – and so it has…. by the muse.

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