04 December 2022

Stephen Mueller: Orpheus the Enchanter

Everyone is smitten with the half-man half-god that was Orpheus.  Even the skeptical Carol Ann Duffy sounds sneakily admiring about: 

"the kind of a man
who follows her round
writing poems,
hovering about
while she reads them,
calls her his Muse,
and once sulked for a night and a day
because she remarked on his weakness for abstract nouns."
 -  Carol Ann Duffy, from The World's Wife Vancouver, Anvil Press: 1999.

Is he  a charlatan?  Who cares when he is such an enchanter?

Here we are light years away from the nightmarish vision of the Jan Brueghel the Elder, a  world inhabited by lizards in red nightcaps, moths with owls' heads and a couple marooned in a boat in the branches of a tree. Monteverdi in 16th century Mantua emphasized the tragic undertones in Orpheus' music. There is a deliciously comic aspect to Mueller's Orpheus.  His multicolored lyre entrances humans and animals alike, its notes float in the air like so many joyous balloons.

Stephen Mueller (1947-2011) was an American painter whose work was never completely abstract; he incorporated spiritual motifs from Persian miniatures to Mexican ceramics.

Image: Stephen Mueller, Orpheo 2, 2010, acrylic on canvas, Munson Williams Proctor  Arts Institute, 


Tania said...

Amazing figure of Orpheus! I recently saw abstract drawings by Michel Seuphor (at the KMSKA in Antwerp) whose artist’s name is the anagram of Orpheus.
Here the death of Orpheus by M. S. : https://www.centrepompidou.fr/fr/ressources/oeuvre/c6bX6xq

Jane A Librizzi said...

Tania, thank you for sharing this link.