Monday, August 11, 2008

The Canon Plus One

The Canon Plus One
or "10 Beautiful Muses" provides a brief commentary on the presence of real life muses in the works of some of the 20th and 21st Century’s most celebrated artists. The list identifies ten muses, each of whom are represented in an image created by their artist. Additionally, the images are accompanied by text that briefly tells about the artists and muse.


In Greek mythology, the Muses are a sisterhood of goddesses who preside over the arts and sciences. Known as the nine daughters of Zeus, muses embody the arts and inspire the creation process, providing guidance and inspiration to artists.

The association of specific muses to specific art forms is a later modernization. Case in point, the canonical nine Muses and the standardized divisions for which they are now identified with was established during the Renaissance.

They are as follows:

  • Calliope, the “beautiful of speech”: chief of the muses and muse of epic or heroic poetry

  • Clio, the “glorious one”: muse of history

  • Erato, the “amorous one”: muse of love or erotic poetry, lyrics, and marriage songs

  • Euterpe, the “well-pleasing”: muse of music and lyric poetry

  • Melpomene, the “chanting one”: muse of tragedy

  • Polymnia, the “singer of many hymns”: muse of sacred song, oratory, lyric, singing and rhetoric

  • Terpsichore, the “one who delights in dance”: muse of choral song and dance

  • Thalia, the "blossoming one": muse of comedy and bucolic poetry

  • Urania, the "celestial one": muse of astronomy

    Muse Links:

    The List

    1. Muse: Black New York
    Artist: James Van Der Zee, Photographer

  • The Wedding Party, 1926. James Van Der Zee. Photograph

    At the age of twelve, Van Der Zee sold twenty packets of perfume and won a prize- his first camera. At first, photography was simply a hobby for Van Der Zee, however as he began to nurture his talent he emerged a self taught genius and one of the first African American photographers of the twentieth century.

    While working as a dark room technician and moonlighting as the Gertz Department Store’s photographer Van Der Zee liked to test out ideas for props and poses that made his client’s photos unique. He would use objects in his pictures, posing his subjects with a book, a cigarette, or flowers. People loved Van Der Zee’s style so much that the young photographer was able to open his own studio.

    Like most artists of the Harlem Renaissance, Van Der Zee did not want to follow anyone else’s rules when it came to his craft. He wanted the freedom to create pictures in his own way. He said, “ I was never satisfied with things the way they looked. I liked working with a big portrait camera so I could make changes… . That was my style though..”

    James Van Der Zee’s photographs rejected stereotypes that labeled African Americans as ignorant and inferior. His pictures were a mirror that showed the people of Harlem and all African Americans that their dreams had come true: they were prosperous, educated, cultured and right in step with modern times.
    Source: P. Stephen Hardy & Sheila Jackson Hardy. Extraordinary People of the Harlem Renaissance. 2002. New York: Children’s Press.

    James Van Der Zee Links:

    2. Muse: Joe Dallesandro
    Artist: Paul Morrissey, Filmaker

    Joe’s the gorgeous hunk in all those Paul Morrissey films that are mistaken for Andy Warhol movies and one of the most beautiful men ever photographed. Joe literally walked into his completely unanticipated career at the age of 18-- while visiting a friend in the Village. Dallesandro heard that the “Campbell’s Soup” guy aka Andy Warhol was making a movie in one of the apartments and so he and a group of friends went to watch. The door to the apartment was open. The guys poked their heads in all while the camera was running…and pointed in their direction.

    Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey were shooting footage for one of their marathon films and weren’t getting anything they liked. It was Morrissey who then suggested that Joe, the most filmable of the bunch, step into the scene. Warhol agreed. And after being approached about being in their movie Joe decided to get involved. Morrissey tapped into the qualities of this young street kid and became his mentor.

    Morrissey’s critically-acclaimed Trilogy: Flesh (1968), Trash (1970) & Heat (1972), all starring Joe managed to bring underground film to the cultural surface and make Joe a sensation. “The Trilogy took the abandoned boy from Queens off his crash course toward likely incarceration and set him on a celebrated tour through Europe where the films were hailed as great social comedies and Dallesandro was treated like a star.”

    Joe followed The Trilogy with Morrissey’s Italian monster movies Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula (perhaps better known as Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein and Dracula). Both movies were veritable gore fests, rife with absurd humor and Joe’s anachronistic tough New York accent. Source:

    Joe Dallesandro Links:

    3. Muse: Rafaela
    Artist: Tamara de Lempicka, Painter

    Belle Rafaella, 1927. Tamara de Lempicka

    The London Sunday Times Magazine called “La Bella Rafaela” “one of the most remarkable nudes of the century.” The reason surely lies partly in de Lempicka's ability to capture her desire for her subject. The desire is palpable. Source:

    A model known only as Rafaela was the inspiration for Tamara de Lempicka's famous painting, "La Bella Rafaela" (1927) and a muse for the painter for at least a year. In the mid- to late 1920s, Tamara de Lempicka hand begun searching for inspiration by walking around famous Paris park, Bois de Boulogne or sitting at outdoor cafes where she would sketch people around her.

    “Suddenly, I became aware of a woman walking some distance in front of me. As she walks, everyone coming in the opposite direction stops and looks at her. They turn their heads as they passes by. I am curious. What is so extraordinary that they are doing this? I walk very quickly until I pass her, then I turn around and come back down the path in the opposite direction” de Lempicka recalled. “Then I see why everyone stops. She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen—huge black eyes, beautiful sensuous mouth, beautiful body. I stop her and say to her, ‘Madmoiselle I’m a painter and I would like you to come pose for me. Would you do this?’ She says, “‘Yes, why not?’”

    The beautiful woman’s name was Rafaela. The next day Rafaela showed up at de Lempicka's studio and posed for what became one of the artist’s most highly praised works, “La Bella Rafaela” or Etude pour La belle Rafaela (Study for The Beautiful Rafaela)
    Of the sitting period Tamara said: “There was a boy who lived in the same building and whose apartment windows were opposite the windows of my studio. He watched me paint her every day, and she knew it. He fell in love with her through the window. Finally she married him, and I Iost my model.”

    Eventually the sessions ceased when Rafaela married a man who lived in the same building as the studio. His windows faced Tamara's and he fell in love with the model he saw through the glass and proposed to her. Source:

    Tamara de Lempicka Links:

    4. Muse: Kate Moss
    Artist(s): Takashi Murakami + 16 other world renown artists

    Kate Moss is an British model known for her waiflike figure, uncommon modeling height, and many advertising campaigns. Moss has appeared on over 300 magazine covers. She is notorious for her high-profile relationships and party lifestyle. Source:

    For the September 2005 issue of W magazine, W's Creative Director Dennis Freedman, asked 17 artists and photographers, including Chuck Close, Richard Prince, Tom Sachs, Lisa Yuskavage, Takashi Murakami, Craig McDean, Bruce Weber and Mario Sorrenti to contribute original work to a 40-page portfolio of fashion icon, Kate Moss. Nine separate covers were produced from the photo sessions. Ms. Moss, 29, who said she essentially saw herself as a canvas for each contributor, posed in a different studio every day for a three-week period. Source:
    • Excerpt from the New York Times on W’s 40 page portfolio:
    • “September is the month when fashion magazines like W load up on clothes. So the portfolio, conceived by Dennis Freedman, W's creative director, is an attempt to break out of the commercial rut that mainstream magazines have dug for themselves. It is also a throwback to an era when art directors like the late Alexander Liberman of Vogue and Alexey Brodovitch of Harper's Bazaar commissioned work from artists, largely in the belief that they were there to sell ideas rather than mere clothes. Mr. Freedman's main motive, though, was to tap into the interchange between art and fashion, something that the first Florence Biennale, in 1996, explored in detail -- through installations by teams of artists and designers like Damien Hirst and Miuccia Prada -- but that magazines, he says, have generally paid lip service to. ‘All too often editors make assumptions about their readers that are out of touch, out of date and condescending,’ Mr. Freedman said, arguing that audiences have become more visually sophisticated in the past decade and often don't see the lines between one form of expression and another. As it happens, the Museum of Modern Art plans to mount a show next April on fashion photography in the 1990's, focusing on the influence of the cinema and the snapshot.”

    Kate Moss as Muse Link:

    5. Muse: Edie Sedgwick
    Artist: Andy Warhol, Pop Artist

    Edie Sedgwick , 1965. Image from the film "Vinyl".

    Edith Minturn Sedgwick, “Edie” was an heiress and socialite who starred in several of Andy Warhol's short films in the 1960s. Sedgwick met artist and avant-garde filmmaker Andy Warhol in March 1965 at Lester Persky's apartment. She began going to The Factory regularly in March of 1965 with her friend, Chuck Wein.

    During one of those visits, Warhol was filming his interpretation of the novel, A Clockwork Orange, which he called, Vinyl. Despite Vinyl's all-male cast, Warhol put Sedgwick in the movie. Sedgwick also made a small cameo appearance towards the end of another Warhol film titled Horse. Sedgwick's appearances in both films were brief. However, they generated so much interest that Warhol decided to create a vehicle in which she would star.

    Warhol's films were not typical commercial success and were rarely seen outside The Factory. But as Sedgwick's popularity grew, mainstream media outlets began reporting on her appearances in Warhol's underground films and in particular Edie’s her unusual fashion sense, which consisted of black leotards, mini dresses, and large chandelier earrings. Sedgwick also cut her hair short and colored her naturally brown hair with silver spray creating a similar look to the wigs Warhol wore. Warhol christened her his “Superstar” and both were photographed together at various social outings.

    Throughout 1965, Sedgwick and Warhol continued to make films together, namely, Outer and Inner Space, Prison, Lupe and Chelsea Girls. However, by late 1965, Sedgwick and Warhol's relationship had deteriorated and Sedgwick requested that Warhol no longer show any of her films. She even asked that the footage she filmed for Chelsea Girls be removed. Source:

    Edie Sedgwick Links:

    6. Muse: Emilie Flöge
    Artist: Gustav Klimt, Painter

    Portrait of Emilie Flöge, 1902. Gustav Klimt. Oil on canvas

    Gustav Klimt was an Austrian Symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Art Nouveau (Vienna Secession) movement. His major works include paintings, murals, sketches, and other art objects, many of which are on display in the Vienna Secession gallery. Klimt's primary subject was the female body and his works are marked by a frank eroticism. Source:

    Emilie Floge (1874-1952) was Klimt's lifelong companion, suspected mistress and one of his principal heirs. She was born into the family of Hermann Floge, a prosperous pipe manufacturer. It is uncertain when she first met Klimt, but his first portrait of her dates to 1891. She would appear in many of his paintings as both subject and model.

    Flöge, Gustav Klimt's friend and model, was 28 when she posed for the painting featured above. “We see her wearing a stunning, fashionable blue dress establishing her role as a society woman from the turn of the century in Austria.” Soon after this portrait she would go on to create the very successful Viennese fashion house, Schwestern Flöge, which she directed from 1904 to 1938.

    After Klimt's death in 1918, Emilie inherited half of his belongings, the other half passing to his family. Many believe Klimt and Floge were lovers, but the truth is they were merely close friends and relatives. Kilmt's brother, Ernst, had married Emilie's sister, which made her Klimt's sister-in-law. During the last 25 years of Klimt's life, she was especially close to Klimt.

    Gustav Klimt & Emilie Flöge Links:

    7. Muse: Amanda Lepore
    Artist: David LaChapelle, Photographer

    ‘Amanda as Andy Warhol's Liz Taylor’, 2003. David LaChapelle
    digital C-print, in ‘AWAKENED‘, TONY SHAFRAZI GALLERY, Feb 24, 2007.

    Born Armand Lepore, Amanda Lepore is an American transgender icon. She has received attention for her modeling, fashion, partying, and business sense. Lepore has been the advertising face for Heatherette, M.A.C. (cosmetics), Mego Jeans, Swatch, and more. Fashion design company Heatherette has used Lepore's image on much of their clothing line and has chosen Lepore to model their brand during Fashion Week, several times. Lepore has also been included in advertising campaigns for Armani and MTV. She has had cameos in music videos for artists like Elton John and the Dandy Warhols. Lepore resides in New York City and works as a nightlife hostess at many of the city's popular parties and clubs.

    Serving as David LaChapelle's muse, Lepore is a regular subject in much of LaChapelle's work. She participated in his Artists and Prostitutes 1985-2005 exhibit in New York where she “lived” in a voyeuristic life-sized set. In October 1999 Swatch released “Time Tranny”, a watch designed by LaChapelle with Lepore on the face of the watch. To date “Time Tranny” is the fastest selling limited edition Swatch.

    Amamnda Lepore Links:

    8. Muse: Leigh Bowery
    Artist: Lucian Freud, Painter

    “Leigh Bowery”, 1996. Lucian Freud

    Lucian Michael Freud is a British painter of German Origin. Freud is one of the best known British artists working in a traditional representational style. In the 1950s he began to paint portraits, often nudes, to the almost complete exclusion of everything else, and began to use a thicker impasto. With this technique he would often clean his brush after each stroke. The colors in these paintings are typically muted. Freud's portraits often just depict the sitter, sometimes sprawled naked on the floor or on a bed... .

    Freud's subjects are often the people in his life; friends, family, fellow painters, lovers, children. To quote the artist: “The subject matter is autobiographical, it's all to do with hope and memory and sensuality and involvement, really.” Source:

    Leigh Bowery is considered one of the more influential figures in the 1980s - 1990s London and New York art and fashion circles “influencing a generation of artists and designers”. Leigh was an Australian performance artist, club promoter, actor, aspiring pop star, model and fashion designer.His influence reached through the fashion, club and art worlds to impact, amongst others, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Anthony and the Johnsons, John Galliano, the Scissor Sisters, David LaChapelle, Lady Bunny plus numerous Nu-Rave bands and nightclubs in London and New York which arguably perpetuated his avant garde ideas. Source:

    “Australian performance artist Leigh Bowery. Bowery was the one subject Freud's ego could not subdue, partly because he wore his skin the way other people wear evening dress. Freud tried again and again to reduce him to anonymity and failed. Bowery's big, glossy body was for Freud ‘perfectly beautiful’. He was allowed to pose standing erect, above Freud's eyeline, with his eyes open and focused, as no woman ever was. If Freud can be said to have had a muse, Bowery was it.” Source:,,2283313,00.html#article_continue

    Leigh Bowery Links: - 34k

    The Invisible Muses

    Although not actual persons, these nouns and/or adjectives describing things and states of being, are nonetheless inspiring.

    9. Muse: Corpulence
    Artist: Fernando Botero, Painter

    Bather with Dog. Fernando Botero. Oil on canvas.

    Fernando Botero Angulo is a Colombian neo-figurative artist. His work includes still-life and landscapes, however, Botero tends to primarily focus on situational portraiture. His paintings and sculptures are, on first examination, noted for their exaggerated proportions and the corpulence of the human figures and animal figures. The "fat people" is what they are often called by critics.

    Botero explains his use of obese figures and forms as such: “An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it.”Source:

    Fernando Botero Links:

    10. Muse: Kitsch
    Pronunciation: \'kich\ Function: noun Etymology: German Date: 1925
    Definition 1 : something that appeals to popular or lowbrow taste and is often of poor quality 2 : a tacky or lowbrow quality or condition Source:
    Artist: Jeff Koons, Pop Artist

    Balloon Dog (Magenta), 1994-2000. Jeff Koons. High chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating

    Jeff Koons is an American artist noted for his kitsch imagery and use of large scale painting and sculpture. Jeff Koons carefully cultivated his public persona by employing an image consultant— something that at the time was unheard of for a contemporary artist. As an artwork in their own right Koons placed full page advertisements in the main international art magazine featuring photographs, taken by Matt Chedgey, of himself surrounded by the trappings of success. Additionally, during personal appearances and interviews Koons began to refer to himself in the third person.

    Koons' early work was in the form of conceptual sculpture, one of the best-known being Three Ball 50/50 Tank (1985) consisting of three basket balls floating in distilled water, which half-fills a glass tank. Koons then moved on to “Statuary”, the large stainless-steel blowups of toys, and then a series “Banality” , which culminated in 1988 with Michael Jackson and Bubbles—stated to be the world's largest ceramic—a life-size gold-leaf plated statue of the sitting singer cuddling Bubbles, his pet chimpanzee.

    Three years later it sold at Sotheby's New York for $5.6 million. The statue was included in a retrospective survey at the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo (2004) which traveled to the Helsinki City Art Museum (2005). It was also featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2008) in his second retrospective survey there. In November (2007) Koons became the most expensive living artist when his giant stainless-steel Hanging Heart sold at Sotheby's New York for $23.6 million. Other large sculptures from his “Celebration” series are currently on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2008). Source:

    Jeff Koons Links:

    No comments: