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The Medusa Effect: Representations from Antiquity to Modernity

Updated: Feb 8

A collage of Medusa representations from Antiquity to Modernity

Medusa, one of the most famous and controversial mythical creatures! 

Her representations evolved from the Archaic 'grotesque' to the 'beautiful' Classical, leaving a lasting mark through Roman times until the end of Antiquity. 

Imagine encountering Medusa's gaze on temples, sarcophagi, and even private houses. Her image adorned artisan workshops, furniture, vessels, utensils, fortification walls, gates, and more. From roofs to coins, gems, and shields, Medusa's presence was widespread. 

Believed to hold protective and defensive powers, these depictions aimed to intimidate spectators and strike fear in enemies. The Medusa motif experienced a remarkable revival during the Renaissance and continues to inspire even today. 

Isn't it fascinating how this mythical creature has left such a profound impact on art and culture throughout history?

If you want to know more about the Medusa effect, join the first spring weekend workshop.

Photos: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Illustration: Photo collage of the following six images:

1. Terracotta painted gorgoneion antefix (roof tile), ca. 540 BCE, Greek.

2. Antefix with the head of Medusa, 4th c. BCE, Greek.

3. Bronze chariot-pole finial with the head of Medusa, 1st–2nd century CE, Roman.

4. Pelike (jar) with Perseus beheading the sleeping Medusa. It is one of the earliest representations in which Medusa's face is that of a beautiful young woman, ca. 450–440 BCE, Greek.

5. Brooch with the head of Medusa as micromosaic made before 1888 by the firm of Castellani in Rome, Italy.

6. Cameo with the head of Medusa, ca. 1860–70, Rome, Italy.

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