Marion’s Medusas at the Warburg in London

Stancioff spent her life charting the use of the same visual symbols by vastly distant cultures

The terrible snake-haired Gorgons capable of turning men who gazed upon them into stone, are familiar to anyone interested in Greek art or mythology. Over the centuries similar monsters have also popped up in the visual language of the North American Indians, the Aztecs, the Peruvians, the Southeast Asians, the Chinese, the Siberian, the Assyrian, the Etruscan, the neolithic Bulgarian, and the medieval English, to name just a few. The late Marion Stancioff, an independent scholar, spent her life charting the use of the same visual symbols by distant cultures separated by time and place. Her archive of around 20,000 notecards is now in the collection of the Warburg Institute in London. A spokesperson for the Institute says: “Although comparative iconology of so ambitious a sort is not currently in fashion...there is such a wealth of information..from this lifetime of reading that anyone interested in any aspect of global iconography should be able to learn something.”

For information: Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London, WC1H OAB. Tel: +44 (0)171 580 9663; fax: +44 (0)171 436 2852.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 89 February 1999