December 27, 2008

Don't be afraid of Medusa

If you are in Florence during this period, and if you are not easily frightened people, you may want to meet … Medusa (Greek: Μέδουσα (Médousa), namely the gorgon, the chthonic female and snake-haired monster who in Greek mythology had a singular property: gazing upon her would turn onlookers to stone! But don’t be afraid, in fact, again according to the myth, she was beheaded by the Perseus, who after using her head as a weapon for only three, or mostly four instances in his adventures, gave it as a gift to the goddess Athena to place on her shield.

Still worried? Don’t be, because I’m just talking about an annual exhibition of precious works usually kept in storage ... And this year’s event focuses precisely on Medusa, exploring the portrayal of the gorgon through centuries of art.

The exhibit features 40 artworks, including ceramics, drawings, paintings—among which is that by an unknown Flemish painter, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci for over a century—and jewellery, with a number of gems usually stored in Florence’s Archaeological Museum. As it was not enough the exhibit features several different editions of Dante’s Divine Comedy, with plates of Medusa who appears in Canto IX of the Inferno. On show from December 24 through January 31 in the Uffizi.