This signed screen print from 1986 is a limited edition of 24 by Keith Haring. Medusa Head is rendered in Haring’s trademark linear style and shows an image of a hydra-like figure whose tentacles stem from its neck and merge into individual bodies across the image. This is one of the large prints in Haring’s body of work and is typical in his exclusive use of black, rounded lines against a white backdrop.
Haring appropriated the image of the Medusa from mythology and art history, best known for having hair made of snakes but here the image is subverted so that her head is removed and the tentacles morph into human figures. As a powerful symbol that represents a dangerous threat that deters other dangerous threats, an image of evil that repels evil, Haring’s print seems to be a depiction of the chaos of human life that was felt in 1980s New York.
Medusa Head is very large in scale and uses simplified shapes and line to form a clear visual language for the public to understand. Although Haring’s choice of subject matter is dark, his playful linear style makes this print universally appealing. The figures hanging off the ends of the Medusa’s tentacles appear as though dancing, as emphasised by Haring’s use of action lines that convey a sense of positive energy to the viewer.