It’s time to invert the idea of the muse.
The history of art is full of women who served as muses to male artists. Many of these women were dynamic artists in their own right, but we often don’t hear as much about their achievements—until today.
On April 24th, National Geographic premiered the new season of Genius: Picasso. Undoubtedly, he was one of the greatest artists of the 20th century and many of the women who filled his life and inspired his work were brilliant creatives themselves.
Now, it’s time to flip this idea of the muse on its head. We partnered with National Geographic to ask Society6 artists Lellopepper, BFGF and Tallulah Fontaine to create a piece of original artwork inspired by the life and work of his muses, thus elevating and celebrating their legacy through the female gaze. Check out their work and their stories below:
Inspired by Dora Maar
Elise Mesner is a photographer and artist from Detroit who, in honor of Genius: Picasso, created work inspired by the life of Dora Maar. Once a leading voice in surrealist photography, Dora spent ten years as his muse and documented the creation of one of his masterpieces, Guernica. Elise’s photo series was inspired by Dora’s photographs, her likeness as captured by Man Ray and the painter’s description of her as “The Weeping Woman”.
Inspired by Marie-Thérèse Walter
Lillian Martinez is an artist who works in multiple mediums—primarily painting and sculpting. In honor of Genius: Picasso, Lillian was inspired by Marie-Thérèse Walter, his lover for nine years and the subject of many of his most famous works. Lillian’s sculpture is entitled “Easy Impression” and seeks to portray a woman who is fully comfortable with herself and her environment.
Inspired by Françoise Gilot
Tallulah Fontaine is an illustrator originally from Edmonton, Alberta. To celebrate Genius: Picasso, she focused on Françoise Gilot—a painter, critic and author who, despite her 10 year relationship with the artist, moved on to an illustrious career of her own. She is still living and working in New York City and her paintings continue to be exhibited around the world. Tallulah’s illustration references the French folktale of Bluebeard and his wives.