The Muse in Contemporary Art

As defined in the previous blog, the muse is a person who is the source of creative inspiration for artists. Artists are attracted to some special quality that they alone may notice. In both the female artist and male artist, these traits often spark creativity, imagination, inspiration and often leads to obsession. In Greek mythology the muses are goddesses.

The muses used in the artwork for this blog are not Greek goddesses but are viewed as inspirational demigoddesses. To my knowledge, they do not play musical instruments. They all have special traits that sparked the creative process. Only two led to a temporary obsession. This bloggers nine muses are named; Catherine (pure), Sharon (flower of the field), Debra (bee), Elizabeth (abundance), Patricia (noble patrician), Judy (praised one), Lenita (silky), Pip II (rootstock) and Cheryl (cherry fruit). These muses also were models and their images are included in artworks associated with this blog.

Other Muses stimulate the creative mind and were not models for artwork. They include: Donna (demigoddess of the home), Judith (demigoddess of persistence), Kim (demigoddess of quantum entanglement) and Dawn (demigoddess of the morning).

In a NY Times article on the ancient art of Iraq, Abdulameer al-Hamdani, the minister of Iraqi culture said, “In a box, art has no soul”. NY Times, June 9, 2019, Volume CLXVIII, No 58353, p 5, Alyssa J. Rubin.

The images below utilize muses that were also models and represent the various media and approaches used in this bloggers artworks. They are not in chronological order. The blog got a bit long, but being 87 years in age and completing 77 years of artwork, a longer blog might be justified. I do not remember all of my early muses, but they existed. I do remember one, a mother who lost 3 sons in World War II. The artwork, which she inspired, was a large Uncle Sam illustration for a memorial service she attended in Leonardo, NJ. I was in my early teens.

Figure B-1 is an artwork (2002) that used two different muses. Using a blackboard analogy, this piece attempts to capture the mathematical transformation of the images of the muses and the development of that transformation over time. It stems from experience as a lecturer at the university level. A series of lectures were often given on the same subject over alternate days. As other lecturers used the blackboards, the blackboards were erased at the end of each lecture. My original lecture was then continued on a clean board. The students hopefully captured the completed lectures. To capture each lecture in an artwork, each lecture used different colors superimposed on one another as shown in figure B-1. Thus a completed lecture over time is presented as a single artwork. When I first started this approach, I felt myself back in the lecture hall.

B-1. II B-1. 5-02 BLACKBOARD 3-02

Figure B-1. Projection & MetaNudes, 2002, fiberboard, 12’ x 4’ JD Sage.

  • JD Sage, Projection & MetaNudes, #05-02, 2002, 12 x 4 ‘, Euco board. 4’x4’, shellac, black chalkboard paint, oil crayon, gold leaf, Private Collection, Massachusetts.

Figure B-2 is a sand print (2004) using a muse as a model. In this print she is hidden. The sand print is an artwork, which uses a combination of stencils, drawings, and natural beach sand to generate an image. Most of the sand prints were made on Prince Edward Island, Canada, where this blogger has a studio. The seashore and the lap and roar of waves on the beach bring out the primal instincts in man. Mermaids do the same.

B-2. 10-04 040799 10-04 Undertow Series Rec PEI II

Figure B-2. Undertow Series, 2004, 30″ x 22.5”, paper, JD Sage.

  • JD Sage, Undertow Series IV, #09-04, 2004, 30” x 22.5”, Sand print on arches white 140 lb. paper, various contemporary nude images, various images from Neolithic, Alta, Norway. watercolor, Primacolor pencil, Krylon spray paint, silver and gold leaf. Red Point, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Private Collection, Colorado.

Figure B-3 is a graphic artwork (2001) in which a muse coupled with images from the pre-historic ages are combined to capture time. Having visited both Neolithic and Paleolithic art sites this blogger became attracted to the commonality of images over time. They may appear different but they generally represent a common primal instinct. I must have Neanderthal genes somewhere in my genetic code.

B-3. 1-01 010999 Timeist II PEI

Figure B-3. Timeist Study I, 2001, 16″ x 20″, paper, JD Sage..

  • JD Sage, Timeist Study I, #01-01. 16’x20’, on black museum board, contemporary, Neolithic, and Paleolithic images. Private Collection, Massachusetts.

Figure B-4 is a graphic artwork (1981) that uses the muse in two different poses where the scale of the images follows the Fibonacci series. During the writing of my first book on art, I became fascinated with this series after investigating the symmetry of an ammonite fossil. JD Sage, MetaForms and MetaNudes etcetera (West Boylston, Massachusetts: Mercantile/Image Press, 2003) Softcover, 201 pages, out of print.

B-4. 40-81 Erotic Intersection, 24x32”, 1981

Figure B-4. Erotic Intersection, 1981, 24″ x 32”, Graph Paper, JD Sage.

  • JD Sage. Erotic Intersection/Transform, #40-81, 1981, on graph paper w/polar graph paper, untransformed images, colored pencil, oil crayon, India ink, gold leaf, Fibonacci sequence. Private Collection, Massachusetts.

Figure B-5 is an artwork (2000) using a muse and two additional models to represent a transformation of the three graces in association with images from the Neolithic and Paleolithic age. Thoughts about permanence in artworks stimulated looking into the use of two stable materials, gold and glass. I am less sure of the permanence of the sizing used to adhere to the gold leaf to the glass or the black paint used on the rear of the glass. Time will tell.

B-5. 11-99 Gold Series II

Figure B-5. Time Series Gold Series, 2000, 10″ x 6.5”, JD Sage.

  • JD Sage. Time Series Gold Series, #02-00. 10” x 6.5”, 2000, gold leaf on glass, etched with black spray paint on rear, transformed three graces and Neolithic and Paleolithic images. Private Collection, Massachusetts.

Figure B-6 is a sculpture (1988), which utilizes the transformation of four poses of a muse to represent the cultural evolution in Portugal. The person in the figure was placed to show scale. The sculpture was envisioned to show the development through time of the evolution of Portugal from a cloistered to full modern day exposure using the metaphor of undressing the female body.

B-7. 29A-88 Portugal sculp

Figure B-6. Portugal, 1988, slate,  height 51”, JD Sage.

  • JD Sage, Portugal, #29A-88, 1988, 69 Hammond St, Studio, Worcester, Massachusetts. Four gray slate sculptures, 51” in height having varying widths. The evolution of Portugal over time. Private Collection, Massachusetts.

Figure B-7 is a photograph (1977) of a peaceful resting muse and model. Since it has been said earlier in this blog, that “in a box, art has no soul”, I took her out.

B-8. Fig 8-10 007 Cathy #3 Jun77

Figure B-7. Resting Muse, 1977, Photograph, JD Sage.

  • JD Sage, Resting Muse, #007 Cathy #3, 1977, Worcester, Massachusetts. Photograph from 4×5” negative. Private Collection, Worcester, Massachusetts.

Figure B-8 is a photographic print of a negative (1981) of a favorite muse and model. I used a negative of the image as it supported the mystery of the masked female.

B-9 Fig 7-23 089 #2 Pip II Oct 81 Neg

Figure B-8. Standing Muse, 1981, 4×5″ negative, JD Sage.

  • JD Sage, Standing Muse, #Pip II, 1981, Worcester, Massachusetts. 4×5” negative. Private Collection, Worcester, Massachusetts.

Figure B-9 is an illustration (1979) of a muse model. As in the previous figure, the mask allows one to be someone else or themselves.

B-10. 22-79 Cheryl Owl copy

Figure B-9. Owl Mask on a Redhead, 1979, 21″ x 30″, paper, JD Sage.

  • JD Sage, Owl Mask on a Red Head, #22-79, 19/9, Craypas on rag paper, 20.5”x 30.3”, 100 Grove St. Studio, Worcester, Massachusetts. Private Collection, Massachusetts.

Figure B-10 is an illustration (2012) of a model of a muse showing a concept of memory. Without memory, we have no past. You can blame the loss of memory on a lack of the Npas4 gene or just old age! . JD Sage, MetaForms and MetaNudes, e-book IV, 2018, Sagama Publishing, Apple iBook, ISBN 0-9718470-4-5

B-11. 18-12 120899 #18-12 record Whisper

Figure B-10. Whispers, 2012, 22” x 28″, museum board, JD Sage.

  • JD Sage, Whispers: Homage to Pip II, #18-12, 2012, 22” x 28, stencil on black museum board, gold leaf, oil crayon, and India ink. Prince Edward Island, Canada. Private Collection, Massachusetts. Note: used in eBook III.

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