Artists’ Muse


Kate Moss by Banksy

With the Met ‘Model As Muse’ exhibition right around the corner the influence of models within the world of fashion is being highlighted like never before. Models are being shown as not just clothes hangers but as integral parts of the creative process. A beautiful face can not just inspire a designer but it can sum up the look and feel of a whole era. What is more swinging 60s than an image of Twiggy in Mary Quant? How can the decadent disco era be summed up without thinking of Iman in shimmering Gucci? The images put forth by fashion are imbued with a power that extends beyond the boundaries of the industry itself and into the larger cultural fabric.

Nowhere is the power of a model’s image more evident than in the art it inspires. In recent years artists have taken a pointed interest in the perfection put forth by modeling’s finest. Naturally, fashion and art have always been interconnected – everyone from Warhol to Dali has painted portraits of fashion models – but the rate at which models are appearing on the canvases of some contemporary artists is fascinating. Painter Richard Phillips’ has captured everyone from Caroline Trentini to Coco Rocha. Alex Katz has created portraits of Natalia Vodianova and Christy Turlington. George Condo was featured in an entire Vogue spread with Daria Werbowy. A whole exhibition could be devoted to artists and Kate Moss, whose status as a pop culture icon has made her the subject of numerous paintings and sculptures.


Kate Moss by Chuck Close (courtesy of Phillips de Pury)

One might say that the ongoing art fascination with models is part of the general obsession with celebrity but enigmatic nature of a model is slightly different from the role of an actor or actress. Stars are fascinating because of what we know about them, models are often alluring because of what we don’t. Even a figure as omnipresent as Miss Moss is still shrouded in the sort of mystery that allows her to be aspirational. Models are famous in their own right but they serve to represent ideals that are abstractions. A model can be an avatar for beauty, wealth, privilege and just about anything else a designer or artist can think up. Truly great models become whatever it is they need to be for that moment and when applied to art they epitomize the ultimate blank canvas.


Caroline Trentini & Coco Rocha by Richard Phillips


Kate Moss by Lucien Freud


Natalia Vodianova by Jeanne Detallante


Alys Hale & Imogen Morris-Clarke by KT Art


Doutzen Kroes by Terry Rodgers


Gemma Ward by Jodie Candy


Jerry Hall & Cheryl Tiegs by Andy Warhol


Kate Moss by Tracey Emin


Natalia Vodianova by Alex Katz


Daria Werbowy in front of George Condo canvas inspired by her

  1. I have to disagree with the opinion about not wearing make-up makes them all of a sudden ugly. It’s a nice rustic contrast that they can’t hide behind make-up, it gives a more authentic pulchritude derived from humanity. Because of this I have to say my personal favorite is Kate Moss by Chuck Close.

  2. I have to say this is one of the BEST postings I’ve seen in a long time, no diss to the rest but this is nothing short of refreshing Brilliance.

    Thanks Janelle!

  3. everything looks so amatuer…of course i m not talking about Warhol who shoundn t even been mentined among those..since he s one of the most inflent artist of all the times…someone has go at a museum b4 to call this art…whatever…

  4. well you’re certainly showing your total lack of culture truman, sounds like you’re the one who needs to take a little trip to the museum… Lucien Freud, Chuck Close (amazing photos of Kate, by far my favorite in this series, and totally unlike what he’s most well known for), Alex Katz, George Condo, these are not second rate artists.

    Yes Warhol is one of the most influential artist of the last 100 years, but it doesn’t mean the others here are worthless either, what a narrow view of art to have.

    Anyway art is not about being pretty or being liked, Warhol himself got completely dismissed by other artists when he first tried to break into the art scene. Why all the negativity?

  5. Oh no! Doutzen Kroes! haha
    Wish I could post my portraits of models here :]

  6. Doutzen Kroes is so beautiful. The ones with Coco Roacha and Gemma Ward are fantastic as well. Model as muse=exquisite!

  7. Oh my………it’s absolutly breath taking.I so want a picture of me like this done it’s brilliant!!!Suppa HAWWTTT!!=]

  8. I’d just like to point out that the portraits of alys Hale (Storm) and Imogen Morris-clarke (Next) were actually painted by two artists known as K&T, they are identical twin brothers from London.

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