Artists have always been moved to create portraits of their muses; we instantly recognise many of their faces from the world's most iconic artworks. But, just who was Picasso's 'Weeping Woman'? Why was Grace Jones covered in graffiti? How did Francis Bacon meet the burglar who became his muse?
The perception of the muse is that of a passive, powerless model, usually young, attractive and female, at the mercy of an influential and older male artist. But is this trope a romanticised myth? Have individuals embraced, or even sought, the status of muse? Far from posing silently, muses have brought emotional support, intellectual energy, career-changing creativity and practical help to artists - and where would those artists be without them?
With examples from the ancient world to today, this book will tell the true stories of the incredible muses who have inspired art history's masterpieces. From Leonardo da Vinci's studio to the covers of Vogue, Muse will uncover the remarkable role of muses in some of art history's most well-known and significant masterpieces. By delving into the real-life relationships that models have held with the artists who immortalised them, it will expose the influential and active part they have played.
From a job centre supervisor in London and young men on the streets of Harlem to weavers in Bangladesh, Muse will reveal the unexpected, overlooked and forgotten models of art history. Featuring performing models and devoted parents, creative allies and muses who have been turned into messages, this book will deconstruct reductive stereotypes, and reframe the muse as a momentous and empowered agent of art history.