Saturday, September 17, 2022

Muse: Uncovering the Hidden Figures Behind Art History's Masterpieces by Ruth Millington -- BOOK REVIEW



Muse: Uncovering the Hidden Figures Behind Art History's Masterpieces by Ruth Millington (2022, Pegasus Books)

Ruth Millington is an art historian and author, specializing in modern and contemporary art. In Muse, she explores the stories of the people depicted in 30 famous portraits and the relationships they had with the artists who painted them. Millington challenges the idea that muses are young women who pose for old male artists. The muses in her book are women and men, young and old, and all play a more active role in inspiring and influencing the art they are a part of.

Millington writes in a breezy, journalistic style that makes her book approachable to readers who might be interested in but unfamiliar with the artists she examines. The only drawback to the book is that she describes a lot of works of art and there are no pictures or illustrations of them, other than one black and white sketch at the beginning of each chapter. This is understandable because the book would be enormous if it included pictures of all the art described. But be prepared to spend some time on google looking up the artwork as curiosity dictates, which it will.

The artists and the muses who inspired them featured in Millington's book are:

Diego Velázquez and Juan de Pareja

Pablo Picasso and Dora Maar

Gustav Klimpt and Emilie Flöge

David Hockney and Peter Schlesinger

Artemisia Gentileschi (herself)

Frida Kahlo (herself)

Sunil Gupta (himself)

Nilupa Yasmin (herself)

Marlene Dumas and Helena Dumas

Awol Erizki and Beyoncé

Fukase Masahisa and Fukase Sukezo

Alex Katz and Ada Katz

Francis Bacon and George Dyer

Sylvia Sleigh and Lawrence Alloway

Salvador Dalí and Gala Dalí

Pixy Liao and Moro

Marina Abramović and Ulay

Keith Haring and Grace Jones

Tim Walker and Tilda Swinton

Paula Rego and Lila Nunes

Sir John Everett Millais and Elizabeth Siddall

Sir Sidney Nolan and Sunday Reed

Augustus john and Lady Ottoline Morrell

Gabriele D'Annuzio and Marchesa Luisa Casati

Andrew Wyeth and Anna Christina Olson

Chris Ofili and Doreen Lawrence

Lucian Freud and Sue Tilley

Kim Leutwyler and Ollie Henderson

Kehinde Wiley and Souleo

Muse is a fascinating look at the stories behind some of art history's most significant and recognizable master works. Artists and art lovers will be enlightened and entertained by Millington's new book. 

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