The Gift and The Curse of being a Muse


I wonder if it’s possible to have a love affair that lasts forever.” – Andy Warhol

The relationship between a Muse and an Artist can be complex, intuitive, and intimate. It is noted that the artist would want to explore all facets of their chosen muse. Desiring to know every part of them. Most Muse/Artist relationships do carry out a sexual connection, which binds the bond between the two. Gala Diakonova was a woman who was married to Poet Paul Éluard. Gala cheated on Paul with famous Painter Max Ernst, who eventually spent three years with Gala and Paul living together in a Ménage á Trois relationship. She would eventually meet and marry Artist Salvador Dali years later.

In Greek Mythology, the muses were nine goddesses who symbolized the Arts, Science, and Literature, The nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Calliope (Epic Poetry), Clio (History), Enterpe (Flutes and Lyric poetry), Thalia (Comedy and Pastoral poetry), Melpomene (Tragedy), Terpsichore (dance), Erato (Love poetry), Polyhymnia (Sacred poetry) And Urania (Astronomy). Today, a muse is a person who serves as an artist’s inspiration, the origin. The connection can offer the creator, the divine guidance while the inspirer receives the acknowledgment of knowing that they have inspired the art itself. A muse can be visualized as a fantasy in the cold reality of the world. They serve their purpose of igniting sparks of inspiration, with creativity being the primary reason between the two. The real ability of the muse is to ignite the fire in the womb of the artist without the act of sex.

Frida Kahlo met Diego Rivera in 1928, she was an admirer of his work and proceeded to develop her artistic gift through him. A year later they would marry, he was 21 years her senior. They would cheat on each other constantly, Diego with women and Frida with both men and women. Despite the numerous extramarital affairs on both ends, they stayed together until Diego cheated with Frida’s little sister which led to their divorce in 1939. They remarried the following year. Fourteen years after their reunion, Frida passes away. Diego described her death as, “The most tragic day of his life, and that, too late, he had realized that the most wonderful part of his life had been his love for her.”

But with anything powerful and intensified as the relationship between an artist and their muse, possession can also be put in motion. With the term “muse” comes the idea of possessive and exclusivity, which some may or may not like. To be owned by that one particular artist can be flattering, yet frightening all at one time. Can you be replaced? Will your efforts go wasted? A muse can tap into the creative emotion without really trying. They provide a focus, a sort of stability to the artist to draw from. A relationship that can last forever or fall into the pits of miscommunication, gossip, jealousy, envy or it simply running its course. Dora Maar, a French photographer, poet, and painter was a lover of Pablo Picasso. She was 28 and He was 54. They were together for nearly nine years and he painted several portraits of her. Dora suffered from self-doubt and depression while being with Pablo. During World War II, Pablo left Dora for Francoise Gilot as a lover and muse. She would subsequently suffer a nervous breakdown later.

Dora Maar and Pablo Picasso

An artist absorbs from the muse to funnel the creativity they need to further express themselves. A union of creative minds in which they both inspire one another. In history, most Artist/Muse relationships are sought after like Yoko Ono and John Lennon, Iman and David Bowie, and maybe even Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. But with these relationships, distress or not, the art of all forms will live on forever.

There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.” – Frida Kahlo