The Symbolism Of Medusas

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The pre-iconographic reading is as follows: a grey severed head fills the major part of the paper (two thirds of the height). The top edge of the sheet cuts the face right-above the brows. The eyes are open and the gaze is directed at the viewer and the mouth is closed. The curly hair is seen on both sides, on the right there is a snake’s head among it. At the left, a strand of hair goes till the bottom of the frame and another, with reddish drops, goes in her neck and ends with a snake’s head. The bottom third consists of these two strands and on the right, of a winged horse. The background is dark yellow except around the winged horse where it is bright. There are several iconographic keys to this drawing. The first one is the snakes’ heads…show more content…
Concerning the woman-myth, there is no evidence to support this type. Therefore, Medusa is definitely depicted monstrously but in an explicitly modern way. In Symbolism, used symbols are often extracted from their conventional context and apparently receive a new content. According to Michael Sagroske, Khnopff’s Medusas are excellent examples of this phenomenon (in Khnopff et al., 2004, p.53). Medusa is likely to be a critique of industrial society. As many Symbolists, Khnopff despised industrial society. If he had to visit Bruges, the city where he had grown up, he refused to look at any changes brought by modernity which he loathed (De Croës & Ollinger-Zinque,1987, p.495; Khnopff et al., 2004, p.23). He largely preferred to draw inspiration from the civilisations of the…show more content…
Any associations with the traditional Medusa and typical femme fatale disappear. Iconographically the work does not ignore the traditional Medusa, but for its meaning, it depends completely on the artist’s private iconography (Sagroske in Khnopff et al., 2004, p.63). First, his hatred for Modernity, in line with the Symbolist thought, is so intense that it cannot be ignored when studying his work. Secondly, the artist had themes which prevail in his works such as solitude. Theme that was not only painted but lived. Therefore, regarding their importance in the artist’s life, they should be given more significance than general

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