Meaning of 'my muse'

Famous artists frequently name people they’re fond of as being ‘my muse’. Everyone knows a muse is ostensibly someone who inspires you, but what I want to know is there some sort of implicit sexual subtext associated with this term? Do you tend to assume that’s the case when you hear the phrase? Obviously context matters, but would you say that its’ typical use (in context) suggests that implication more often than not?

I never heard of such a thing, though you never know about freaky artists-- you would have to be specific.

Invoking the Muse goes back at least to Homer. In reference to a non-true Muse, the Oxford English Dictionary has a quote from 1695: “Dr. Killigrew had a Daughter named Anne, a Grace for Beauty, and a Muse for Wit.”

ETA all other things being equal, if someone said, “X is my muse”, I would interpret that to mean “I am inspired by X as by a muse”, not “I am fond of X” or “I am fucking X”.

Is there ‘some’ implicit sexual context? I would say so. That doesn’t mean that it’s universal. Sometimes a muse is just someone close to the artist. If we look at Renoir’s rather extensive list of muses as an example, he slept with maybe 2/3 of them, but there were still a few that he didn’t. I think Picasso had like six great muses and I’m pretty sure that he slept with all of them. I think there is maybe a tendency for muses to be something that artists long for and love in some way, but not always sexually.

I guess what I would say is that if your boyfriend/husband starts calling some other woman his muse, it might be completely innocent, but I wouldn’t leave them in the same room alone together. :slight_smile:

Personally, most of the time I assume that some sexual relationship is involved.

From this interesting piece, We Pick Our Top 10 Art Historical Muses it would seem that usually there is.

Undoubtedly the sexual and the creative act are linked in the minds of some artists, but- despite the title- it is the writer of the piece who describes various women (favorite models, lovers, and wives) as ‘muses’, which does not tell us if the artist consciously thought of them that way.

As a songwriter, my muse is not a human, it’s a part of me – the part of my emotional and intellectual makeup that compels me to write music. I’ve written songs inspired by people, but there is no single person in my life who drives my creativity. Sorry to disappoint you, but there is no way I could have sex with my muse. I do, for the record, think of it as a female spirit, though I’m not spiritual in the least. If I were to mention “my muse,” I would be speaking metaphorically about a part of me.

I’m an artist, and if I’m calling anyone my “muse”, it would be my mother. She was an artist herself, and while she was alive she gave me a great deal of support and encouragement. My father was also an artist, but died before I really started my mature work.

Believe me, there’s NOTHING sexual going on here. :eek:

I do not think it is implicitly sexual. It may be sexual/romantic with a lot of artists, but I would need more context. And when I do think of a sexual impetus, I think more often of an unrequited sexual desire, than a requited one.

Vincent: would you call a guy your muse?

Jules: fuck you.

I ordered a muse from Thalia Inc, and they sent me a moose instead.

Mind you, moose bites can be pretty nasty…

Stretching the definition of a muse, I’ve had a number of girls/women in my life I view as a muse without any sexual innuendo or thought. I’ve treated them like my daughter or sister and they’ve inspired me to try things (like walking up the side of 50 ft cliff) that I would never have thought of doing and I’ve grown because of my relationships with them.

So I guess anything is possible.

As a (purely amateur) writer of fiction, I view my Muse in this way. It’s not a particular person who inspires my writing, but a purely mythical, personal personification I have for my creativity. I’ll joke about “my Muse is whispering in my ear” if I’m feeling inspired to write, or “my Muse is AWOL” if I have writer’s block.

I tend to think that a muse has to be someone deeply emotionally involved with the artist. So though you can be inspired by many different things and people, the muse is an intimate, always present inspiration, but not necessarily directly the inspiration. i.e. their mere presence is enough for them to start a new work, but they don’t have to have done or said anything to spark it off.

I’d say the muse is somebody who doesn’t structure their thought patterns the way the artist does. The artist encounters somebody who “thinks outside the box” and draws inspiration from that. The muse is usually a free-spirited flighty female who doesn’t care about rules, but could also be a bird, a pet, or even something nonliving. I remember in American Beauty Wes Bentley’s character filmed a plastic bag that was being buffeted by the wind against a brick wall, and he considered it beautiful and worth preserving.

The muse is not by definition someone the artist is stealing ideas from, except perhaps in a mythical sense.

Where did I say “stealing”?

I mean that the artist is the one who “thinks outside the box”, in the sense that he or she has original ideas and thought patterns.

I say this knowing full well Picasso’s (?) quip that, “bad artists copy; great artists steal”, and it is indeed in this sense that the muses are the source of all art and knowledge. It need not refer to mythical goddesses; an artist can be inspired by a specific person’s work as well as more generally by certain slices of culture.

Your meaning is clear, but I disagree that being free-spirited, or flighty like a bird, or a beautiful flower makes someone/something a “muse”. The creative spark may be ignited by an encounter with something unremarkable, or after interaction with another artist, but there has to be more to it than that. Would you generally call your mentor, colleague, or model a “muse”? If I experience an epiphany after staring at a rock, is stone a muse?

I’m a writer and I am often inspired by my kids. Sometimes moments in my life as a mother inspire me to write. The muse will come upon me while with my kids.

I am not sleeping with my kids. I am rather fond of them, though.

Picasso both slept with and abused anything that stayed still long enough.
Couture designers sometimes speak of certain models as being their muses in cases in which said model is definitely not of the designer’s preferred bed-companionship gender. In this case the muses in question have the general body shape the designer finds professionally attractive, and the ability to bring out a design’s best or to point out flaws in a way the designer views positively.