Medusa With the Head of Perseus


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Garabati, Luciano. Medusa with the Head of Perseus. Clay. 2008.

In this updated version of the classic sculptural format depicting Perseus showing off the decapitated head of a defeated Medusa, artist Luciano Garabati tells a different version of the Medusa myth. In his own words, he wanted to examine the question, “What would it look like, her victory, not his? How should that sculpture look?” ( In Garabati’s interpretation of the myth, he sympathizes with Medusa as a woman who was raped, cursed, and then beheaded. In this sculpture, Medusa does not look triumphant, she holds the head of Perseus low to the ground, her shoulders are back, still braced from committing an act of what Garabati was trying to portray as self-defense. This is not a proud moment for her, especially when contrasted with the earlier sculpture Perseus with the Head of Medusa which shows Perseus holding Medusa’s head high, basking in his victory. Again, in Garabati’s own words, “This difference between a masculine victory and a feminine one, that was central to my work. The representations of Perseus, he’s always showing the fact that he won, showing the head…if you look at my Medusas…she is determined, she had to do what she did because she was defending herself. It’s quite a tragic moment.” (

In the contemporary era where women’s  struggles are met with more sympathy and, as Helene Cixous hoped, women are finally starting to be allowed to take control of their narratives and tell stories from the female point of view, it comes as no surprise that a present-day take on the Medusa myth would see some kind of victory come from Medusa’s suffering. Across the internet, this sculpture has become a symbol of feminine rage for women fighting back against male oppression and, in a way, Medusa is the perfect face for the feminist movement: a woman who had her bodily autonomy taken from her, was cursed, forced to live a life she did not choose, but yet was still immensely powerful. This retelling of the myth with Medusa fighting back and winning the battle against Perseus, a symbol of masculine victory, is still tragic but also serves as a parallel for women’s initiation of the feminist movement and the battles it won that should not have had to be fought in the first place.

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