The relationship between an artist and their muse is one of the most romanticized clichés about art making. Just think of the movie Titanic in which the protagonist, a penniless artist named Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) draws the wealthy first class passenger Rose (Kate Winslet). If you look beyond the tale of class mobility, the artist/muse relationship is one big power trip. And it is the (male) artist who has control.
Molly Crabapple entirely reshapes this relationship for her current exhibition Annotated Muses at Postmasters Gallery. While not as overtly political as her well-known revolution-focused Shell Game series, the exhibition returns agency to the muse, continuing Crabapple’s drive to break repressive power structures. It also allows for an increased intimacy between the viewer and the usually silent, passive muse.