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Current time:0:00Total duration:2:55


Video transcript

(jazz music) Dr. Zucker: We're in the Capitoline Museums in Rome and we're looking at this gorgeous little sculpture, this bust by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Dr. Harris: It's not really little. Her head looks life size or maybe even slightly larger. Dr. Zucker: Yeah, it is, you're right. It's bigger than life, but I guess after looking at the massive Marcus Aurelius (crosstalk) Dr. Harris: It's a bust. Dr. Zucker: But you're right, it's larger than life and it's of Medusa, so this is a Greek myth. She was one of the three Gorgon Sisters, as portrayed by the Greeks as a monster, who had hair - Dr. Harris: Made of snakes. Dr. Zucker: Snakes, yeah, and here they're writhing. Dr. Harris: And whose gaze turned men to stone, is that right? Dr. Zucker: Yes and in fact, when Perseus beheads her, he uses the reflection in his shield, so that he can attack her without (crosstalk) Dr. Harris: She even, in the 19th century, comes to represent a femme fatale, dangerous. Dr. Zucker: That's right. Dr. Harris: Woman. But here she's depicted so sympathetically. Dr. Zucker: It may be the only time I've seen her less as a threat and more as almost a kind of victim. Dr. Harris: She's so baroque in that she's making this expression that looks very momentary. We've caught her making this expression on her face and this captured sense of time. Because of the realism of the face and this expression, it makes you ... I want to make the expression on her face, of opening my mouth and pushing my brows together and up and as soon as I do that, you get this feeling of being very vulnerable and frightened, almost. Dr. Zucker: She's terrified of herself here. Dr. Harris: Yeah. Dr. Zucker: Imagine what it must feel like to have those snakes writhing around your head always. Dr. Harris: And have anyone who looks at you - Dr. Zucker: Turn to stone. Dr. Harris: What a lonely and terrible existence. These writhing snakes that Bernini has left rather raw, compared with the polish that he's depicted her face with. Dr. Zucker: It's true, he's really smoothed the face, so it's got this brilliant sheen on especially those lips, which almost look wet, so this tension between the monster that she is and there's a humanity that suffers from that. Dr. Harris: The light and the shadow because of the drilling and the depth of the carving of the snakes around her face. Dr. Zucker: That's right, like Michelangelo carving so deeply into the mouth, even. There's no need to carve that deeply, except to create those shadows and those contrasts, then, between light and dark. Look at the depth of those brows. The exaggeration of the nose and the lips and the chin. Dr. Harris: There's an exaggeration in her expression. Dr. Zucker: There is, which makes it all the more powerful, all the more theatrical, all the more baroque. Dr. Harris: The more poignant. (jazz music)