Just Kids Question #17B - Artist and muse?

by Patti Smith

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Just Kids Question #17B - Artist and muse?

Unread postby Liz » Fri Sep 06, 2013 2:01 am

From Pg. 257:

He suggested we do a poster and we each chose an image of the other to reinforce our belief in ourselves as artist and muse.

Considering the definition of muse, do you see Patti and Robert as “artist and muse?”
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Re: Just Kids Question #17B - Artist and muse?

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Fri Sep 06, 2013 4:04 am

Yes, but not exclusivley, although maybe more in the way they encouraged each other rather than using each other as the subject for their work.

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Re: Just Kids Question #17B - Artist and muse?

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Sat Sep 07, 2013 2:29 am

In a word, yes. I think they not only encouraged (more on that in 17c), but also inspired. It seems to me that creativity is at its best when emotions are running strong – be they either positive or negative. And being in love certainly inspires…

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Re: Just Kids Question #17B - Artist and muse?

Unread postby Buster » Sat Sep 07, 2013 4:29 pm

If you think of a muse as an inspiration to make art, then each was a muse for the other.
I think however that there is a much more complicated relationship between an artist and a muse. It is far from a benign relationship. Part of the mystique of muse is the recognition that any inspiration given comes at a price.The artist pays for the gifts that have been given. I think Patti experienced a lot of pain over her relationship with Robert, but I am also sure she would say it was absolutely worth every minute of it - that she would not be the person she is if she had not risked the deep emotional experience of sharing a life with him.
I think that gets at the crux of what a muse really is - someone you trust on an almost cosmically deep level. Though you know that the results may be excruciating painful to achieve, you also know that they are authentic, a true vision...and that the muse has lit the way.

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Re: Just Kids Question #17B - Artist and muse?

Unread postby Liz » Sun Sep 08, 2013 2:59 pm

Lots of interesting ideas to contemplate here…..ones I hadn’t thought of.

First of all, Buster, your idea of it coming at a price had not occurred to me. In thinking on this, I’m not sure if it is the artist who pays or the muse. It could go either way, or both ways, in different ways.

And I think you are right that they were each other’s muse. And each was an artist. In fact, I just found another quote from the book. A few pages prior (pg. 252) she says that "artist and muse" was “a role that for both of us was interchangeable.”

RR, you mention something else which had not occurred to me, that being in love can be an inspiration also. And I can relate to this. I think that something can inspire you in a person, and then that can turn to love, and then the love can enhance the inspiration. Thank you for pointing that out.

Prior to this discussion, I had always thought of a muse as being an object of obsession. Yes, an inspiration for an artist, but something that goes beyond inspiration and into the obsessive realm. I think many times the obsession is a love obsession but I think it can also be an obsession with the particular physical characteristics that the muse possesses (i.e. Lisa Lyon, female body builder). Robert published an entire book of pictures of her back in 1981. Lisa fit into Robert’s idea of perfection. So you are also correct, GG - not exclusively.
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Re: Just Kids Question #17B - Artist and muse?

Unread postby fireflydances » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:25 pm

The concept of the muse comes from ancient Greece where there were nine muses, goddesses of song and different kinds of poetry, who inspired and presided over the arts. A poet might invoke a muse before sitting down to work in hopes she would bestow on him certain knowledge that would enable him to write a great song or poem. The muses' gifts were sacred.

I think an artist sees something ideal in the person (or persons) who is the muse. A quality or a pure embodiment of a some element important to what they are trying to accomplish in their art. That pure quality needn't be beautiful at all, although we most often consider art and beauty as synonymous.

Patti was clearly a muse to Robert as the photos he took of her attest. I think what she physically provided as a model spurred on Robert's desire to capture her image as perfectly as he could. And after her image, many others. Robert was muse to Patti because of the risks he took, because of the boundaries he exploded. Kind of an embodiment of Rimbaud.

As artists both Patti and Robert were fearless in claiming new territories, Robert visually and Patti as a writer and performer.
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Re: Just Kids Question #17B - Artist and muse?

Unread postby Liz » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:43 pm

fireflydances wrote:I think an artist sees something ideal in the person (or persons) who is the muse. A quality or a pure embodiment of a some element important to what they are trying to accomplish in their art. That pure quality needn't be beautiful at all, although we most often consider art and beauty as synonymous.

I was criticized big time in art class in college for wanting to be too perfect....too realistic.....too beautiful. I was told my art had no soul, no message. I rather laugh at this now. My art was attempting to be photorealism, like Andy Warhol. AND it was at this time that Robert was coming into his own. He was a perfectionist, and I can relate to this. And his art was photography. Beauty, as art, is in the eye of the beholder. But I totally get the goal of perfection. Robert's Calla Lily's are a very good example of this. I'm also into contrasts, and Robert was the master of contrasts.

But art and beauty, according to my professors, is NOT synonymous.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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