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Dangerous Beauty: Medusa in Classical Art

Karoglou, Kiki
48 pages
66 illustrations
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Medusa, the monstrous Gorgon of Greek mythology whose gaze turned beholders to stone, became increasingly anthropomorphic and feminine beginning in the fifth century B.C. This Bulletin explores the changing ways in which Medusa and other hybrid creatures were imagined and depicted from antiquity to the present day. Drawn primarily from The Met collection, this publication examines a wide range of works dating from the late sixth century B.C. to the twentieth century, from ancient Greek armor, drinking cups, and funerary urns to Neoclassical cameos and contemporary fashion. Also featured is one of the earliest portrayals in Greek art of Medusa as a beautiful young woman. Among the most powerful and resonant in Western culture, the story of Medusa has inspired poets, artists, psychoanalysts, feminist critics, political theorists, and designers.

Terracotta antefix with the head of Medusa, Terracotta, paint, Etruscan
6th century BCE
Terracotta stand, Ergotimos as potter, Terracotta, Greek, Attic
ca. 570 BCE
Part of the marble stele (grave marker) of Kalliades, Marble, Greek, Attic
Greek, Attic
550–525 BC
Limestone sarcophagus, Limestone, Cypriot
ca. 475–450 BCE
Terracotta lekythos (oil flask), Diosphos Painter, Terracotta, Greek, Attic
ca. 500 BCE
Terracotta pelike (jar), Polygnotos, Terracotta, Greek, Attic
ca. 450–440 BCE
Perseus and the Sleeping Medusa, Alexander Runciman  British, Scottish, Etching
Antefix, head of Medusa, Terracotta, Greek, South Italian
Greek, South Italian
4th century BC
Fragment of a terracotta relief, Terracotta, Greek, Attic
Greek, Attic
ca. 600 BCE
Horse and rider, Terracotta, Cypriot
early 3rd century BCE
Bronze greave (shin guard), Bronze, Greek, South Italian
Greek, South Italian
4th century BCE
Terracotta kylix: Siana cup (drinking cup), C Painter, Terracotta, Greek, Attic
ca. 575 BCE
Terracotta kylix: eye-cup (drinking cup), Terracotta, Greek, Attic
Greek, Attic
ca. 520 BCE
Terracotta Hadra hydria (water jar), Terracotta, Greek, Ptolemaic, Egyptian
Greek, Ptolemaic, Egyptian
3rd century BCE
Terracotta two-handled vase, Terracotta, Greek, South Italian, Apulian, Canosan
Greek, South Italian, Apulian, Canosan
late 4th–early 3rd century BCE
Bronze ornament from a chariot pole, Bronze, silver, copper, Roman
1st–2nd century CE
Bronze finial with the head of Medusa, Bronze, silver, Roman
1st century CE
Wall painting fragment with Gorgon mask, Fresco, Roman
ca. 14–68 CE
Lid and end panels of a lead sarcophagus, Lead, Roman
late 2nd–mid 3rd century CE
Gold pendant in the form of a gorgoneion (Gorgon's face), Gold, Greek, Cypriot
Greek, Cypriot
ca. 450 BCE
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View Citations

Karoglou, Kiki. 2018. Dangerous Beauty: Medusa in Classical Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, volume 75, number 3 (Winter 2018). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.