The Blood Of Medusa Analysis

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This paper argues that Fernand Khnopff subverts the stereotypical femme fatale of the fin de siècle in his paintings First, he differs visually from his contemporaries. Caresses is close to the traditional representations of the Sphinx. Khnopff however does not sexualise her as much as contemporaries, as seen in the absence of a woman’s breast. Moreover, his Oedipus is identified as an artist and is androgynous, which is an ideal in both Khnopff and the Symbolists’ values. There are also minor changes such as changing the feline and removing wings. In The Blood of Medusa, Khnopff does not completely abandon the traditional representations as he still respects the iconography of Medusa. However, it challenges the latter. Indeed, one of her main…show more content…
He was so particular and had such strong beliefs and attitudes towards society that these can only but show through his art. However, Caresses is not as much linked to his personal iconography. Oedipus can be identified as an artist and there are signs which reinforces the ancient/mythical aspect of the painting. The latter shows how his figures are taken away from their modern surrounding. Moreover, the Sphinx seems to represent temptation or ancient wisdom. Unlike many scholars, I conclude that in Caresses, Khnopff represents the struggle the Artist is facing in order to achieve his goal: to bring the divine on earth through art because to do so, the Artist has to attain a certain ideal, this is the struggle for divine knowledge. He could also represent the achievement of this goal. Spiritual idealism can only be but a goal for Khnopff since the importance he gives to the spiritual and his conviction that artworks are means to escape the world through imagination. Khnopff’s personal iconography is extremely important in The Blood of Medusa and The Silver Tiara which appear connected. There is evidence to suggest that they represent two aspects of meditation in Khnopff’s creative process. The association of a closed mouth with closed eyes represent the so-called ‘passive silence’ which stands for inward-looking and spiritual retreat while the association of a closed mouth with open eyes represents the ‘active silence, i.e. active inspiration. Besides these two states, the creative spirit is represented, either in Pegasus or a sceptre (though this one exemplifies the winged spirit, i.e., the inspiration from the
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