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William Kentridge

Medusa, 2001

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Anamorphic lithograph on chine collé, printed on 6 different pages from the 1906 French Larousse Encyclopedia,
image diameter: 24 4/5” (63 cm),
paper size: 30 11/16 x 30 11/16” (77 x 77 cm),
printed by The Artists’ Press, Johannesburg,
mirror-finish steel cylinder,
diameter 3 1/2” (9 cm), height 5” (12,7 cm), weight 2 lbs (750 g),
Ed. 60/XX, signed and numbered

Mystery solved in mirrored captivity: the gorgon’s head with serpents entwined and the painstaking efforts of the water bearer.


“No stranger to tragedy in life and on the stage, [Kentridge] truly has served as a messenger of the obscene and has taken on the burden of drawing ethical conclusions from historical events that are often overwhelmingly evil. His is an art not only of politics, as it has often been viewed, but also an art of theodicy that considers with great deliberation the problems involved in witnessing, telling, and concluding in the face of unremitting state violence.” Susan Stewart Parkett No. 63, 2001


> See short video excerpt with William Kentridge about some aspects of his art.

“William Kentridge succeeded in creating the most refined artistic interpretation of the reflection in the Medusa myth with an anamorphosis; a 'distorted' drawing that can only be recognized with the aid of the mirror cylinder placed in the center of the circular drawing. Kentridge imaginatively used the catoptric anamorphosis with a mirror cylinder, a widely used instrument, for his Medusa image. He drew with charcoal using the reflection, always looking in the mirror and not at the paper. Kentridge, like Perseus, was thus able to avoid the dangerous direct view of Medusa! It is also noteworthy that Kentridge portrayed himself in the role of Medusa. The mirrored cylinder turns into Perseus’ mirrored shield, disenchanting Medusa’s dangerous stare, and the artist looks at us with a 'harmless' gaze."
(Excerpt from a text in the exhibition catalogue "Mirrors" at the Rietberg Museum Zurich, where Kentridge‘s "Medusa" for Parkett 61 was on view in 2019. For more details on this show see the link above on the right to the "Artists documents in archive" page)