This is one of Alexander Calder’s wire portraits – a drawing made in space – created around 1930. It’s Medusa, the green-skinned Gorgon from Greek mythology with a face that turned men to stone and hair that consisted of hissing, writhing snakes. She seems softer and less threatening in this portrait and perhaps Calder was thinking of Medusa before her transformation. Legend has it she was originally a golden-haired virgin, a priestess of the goddess Athena sworn to a life of celibacy. Athena inflicted a terrible punishment when her priestess fell in love with Poseidon and lost her virginity.
Calder was an American sculptor, best known as the pioneer of mobiles and some of his work is in The Tate.
I like the graphic quality of this portrait and the simplicity of the (wire) lines. But even though it is so simple there is a depth to it: she is more than a regular featured beauty. It’s almost as if she can foresee the high price she has to pay for love.
Less can reveal more in writing too. You should only ever give readers what they need to know. Don’t muddy a scene with description unless it does more than describe. It should also add to our understanding of a character, or create atmosphere or move the story on in some way, otherwise it just gets in the way.