Inspiration and envy make interesting bed-fellows, whilst at odds with one another, they combine perfectly to energize the mind and lubricate the sticky pathway that is the creative process. Inspiration, by definition is a theological influence with the sole purpose of solving problems, whilst envy is a fundamental part of human nature that causes more problems than it solves, however when the two are combined they fuse into what I believe to be a major factor in the flux of an Artists mind; The Muse.
The concept of the muse is one that has been around for centuries; Greek Mythology states the existence of 9 Goddesses (or spirits) known as 'hai mousai' which is a literal translation to 'men - think'. Apex Shed Leigh These Goddesses are believed to be the original source of inspiration for all Literature and Arts - they were the first instances of 'muse'.
However, the advent and study of Psychological science is something that has revealed that inspiration and the ability to focally scrutinize people and objects (to muse) to be something much more human than ancient Greek spirits; 18th Century Psychologist and Philosopher John Locke concluded that inspiration is come to naturally, by a series of ideas that begin as separate entities and are later gelled together in resonance to form an answer or previously unseen conclusion. This theory is hardly as romantic as that of the Ancient Greeks, but in an age of constant psychological scrutiny and obsessive interest in conditioning theories it is certainly more valid.
Another heavily studied aspect of the human psyche is one that we have all dealt with at some point; Envy. For many, it is a socially crippling curse that serves to damage self esteem, cause loathing of others and can ultimately cause clinical depression.
From the same school of thought as the aforementioned John Locke, came Immanuel Kant. Widely regarded as the last influential Philosopher of the modern European classics, Kante defined envy as comparisons we set between ourselves and others, which we then use to measure our own sense of self worth.
I believe that the theories of Locke and Kant are inextricably linked to Art(ists) and the (their) muse(s); In order to gain inspiration from another person, an Artist has to feel that a particular attribute of that person stirs some sort of emotion and therefore becomes a catalyst for inspiration. It is usually this attribute that the artist is envious of and therefore feels the need to portray, explore or sometimes destroy.
"I found him perfectly beautiful" was Lucien Freud's remark after his first meeting with Leigh Bowery at the Anthony d'Offay Gallery in 1988. Bowery had been 'performing' that day, modelling outfits that included several latex body suits.
Bowery's gargantuan body crammed into a skin tight suit is hardly what one would class as traditionally 'Beautiful', but Freud did. Was Freud referring to Bowery's physical appearance? Or was he describing something else, perhaps what Bowery's physical form and the outfits he wore stood for; confidence, freedom and individuality?
Despite being hideously overweight Bowery stood tall as a man unashamed of the fact his body was not stereotypically beautiful. He did not care that he lacked the figure of an Adonis and proudly displayed his curves in revealing clothes for all to see. It is this trait that I believe made Freud so fascinated with him. Where Bowery celebrated his form and flaunted it, Freud obsessed about its decline and documented it in his work, choosing to portray himself often in what could almost be described as a grotesque or unsightly fashion (see 'Reflection').
It is my theory that Freud became envious of Bowery with his open personality and confidence. He longed to rid himself of the insecurities and self doubt that had at some points in his life, led him to womanizing, which is well known to be a trait of those who crave attention and self gratification. At times these pursuits became so intense that it has led to rumours that he has fathered over 40 illegitimate children.
Freud's point of inspiration came from removing Bowery's most prominent 'defence'; his clothes. Without his fantastic Avant Garde ensembles Bowery was physically and figuratively naked. Out of his clothes his flamboyant personality would disappear, he would become shy and self conscious, or so Freud thought.
Bowery, to the contrary remained as confident as ever, posing however Freud desired, even in the most unflattering of positions without so much as a murmur that begged for assurance or compliment. A revelation that served only to fuel Freud's interest in the peculiar Bowery.
Posing for Freud was one of Bowery's favourite pleasures, until his New Years Eve death in 1994 Freud had not known that Bowery was HIV positive.
If Freud had have known about this would it have changed his opinion of Bowery? Would it have altered his perception of Bowery to the extent that he would have been repulsed that he had once been in his naked company? I don't know. One thing I do know is that Bowery clearly did not feel as attracted to Freud as Freud did to him. Freud was a source of income to Bowery, not a close friend, after all Freud was not one of the close few who knew Bowery's middle name.
In comparison to my next example of Artist(s) and the Muse, Leigh Bowery and Lucian Freud's relationship seems like a simple walk in the park rather than the tug of war between friendship and business it was.