2.7.17

Books: Grotesqueness à gogo



Karl Rosenkranz, Aesthetics of Ugliness (1853), ed. Jason E. Hill and Vanessa R. Schwartz, London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015. In this key text in the history of art and aesthetics, Karl Rosenkranz shows ugliness to be the negation of beauty without being reducible to evil, materiality, or other negative terms used it's conventional condemnation. This insistence on the specificity of ugliness, and on its dynamic status as a process afflicting aesthetic canons, reflects Rosenkranz's interest in the metropolis - like Walter Benjamin, he wrote on Paris and Berlin - and his voracious collecting of caricature and popular prints. Rosenkranz, living and teaching, like Kant, in remote Königsberg, reflects on phenomena of modern urban life from a distance that results in critical illumination. The struggle with modernization and idealist aesthetics makes Aesthetics of Ugliness, published four years before Baudelaire's Fleurs du Mal, hugely relevant to modernist experiment as well as to the twenty-first century theoretical revival of beauty.
Translated into English for the first time, Aesthetics of Ugliness is an indispensable work for scholars and students of modern aesthetics and modernist art, literary studies and cultural theory, which fundamentally reworks conceptual understandings of what it means for a thing to be ugly.

Thomas Wright, A History of Caricature and Grotesque in Literature and Art, London: Chatto & Windus, 1875. The Illustrations Drawn and Engraved by F. W. Fairholt. I have felt some difficulty in selecting a title for the contents of the following pages, in which it was, in fact, my design to give, as far as may be done within such moderate limits, and in as popular a manner as such information can easily be imparted, a general view of the History of Comic Literature and Art. Yet the word comic seems to me hardly to express all the parts of the subject which I have sought to bring together in my book. Moreover, the field of this history is very large, and, though I have only taken as my theme one part of it, it was necessary to circumscribe even that, in some degree; and my plan, therefore, is to follow it chiefly through those branches which have contributed most towards the formation of modern comic and satiric literature and art in our own island. Thus, as the comic literature of the middle ages to a very great extent, and comic art in a considerable degree also, were founded upon, or rather arose out of, those of the Romans which had preceded them, it seemed desirable to give a comprehensive history of this branch of literature and art as it was cultivated among the peoples of antiquity. Literature and art in the middle ages presented a certain unity of general character, arising, probably, from the uniformity of the influence of the Roman element of society, modified only by its lower degree of intensity at a greater distance from the centre, and by secondary causes attendant upon it. To understand the literature of any one country in Western Europe, especially during what we may term the feudal period--and the remark applies to art equally--it is necessary to make ourselves acquainted with the whole history of literature in Western Europe during that time. The peculiarities in different countries naturally became more marked in the progress of society, and more strongly individualised; but it was not till towards the close of the feudal period that the literature of each of these different countries was becoming more entirely its own. At that period the plan I have formed restricts itself, according to the view stated above. Thus, the satirical literature of the Reformation and pictorial caricature had their cradle in Germany, and, in the earlier half of the sixteenth century, carried their influence largely into France and England; but from that time any influence of German literature on these two countries ceases. Modern satirical literature has its models in France during the sixteenth century, and the direct influence of this literature in France upon English literature continued during that and the succeeding century, but no further. Political caricature rose to importance in France in the sixteenth century, and was transplanted to Holland in the seventeenth century, and until the beginning of the eighteenth century England owed its caricature, indirectly or directly, to the French and the Dutch; but after that time a purely English school of caricature was formed, which was entirely independent of Continental caricaturists.

Wolfgang Kayser: The Grotesque in Art and Literature (1957), McGraw-Hill, 1966. The art of our own day shows a greater affinity to the grotesque than that of any other epoch. Modern novels, modern paintings and sculpture are replete with grotesque features. In this modern classic of criticism, Wolfgang Kayser traces the historical development of the grotesque from the Italian Reanissance (which originated the word "grottesco") through the "chimeric" world of the commedia dell'arte, Sturm und Drang, the age of Romanticism and nineteenth century "realism," to its modern forms in poetry, dream narration and surrealist painting. There are parts of this book that are brilliantly illuminating, but other parts are like trudging through ankle deep mud. It's not that the book is inconsistent, it's that the examples Kayser chooses are so obscure that he has to explicate them and his summaries are hazy. Sometimes I couldn't even tell why he chose the examples that he chose. But when he's talking theory or history, he can be very inspiring. An interesting book about the history and traditions of grotesque. If you don't know the literature examples, the ideas are sometimes a bit hard to follow, but the book was still very nice to read. I found Kayser's almost psychological view of the grotesque quite surprising: it seems that grotesque is grotesque only when it's new and unknown, and when you get used to it, its grotesqueness fades. Kayser's descriptions lack the comic side of grotesque almost completely, but otherwise his views felt logical and believable.

Philip Thomson: The Grotesque, Methuen, 1972. First published in 1972, this book provides a helpful overview of the grotesque and its use in a number of literary genres including novels, drama and poetry. After providing a historical summary of the term, the book discusses the various defining aspects of the grotesque and its relationship to other terms and modes of literature, such as satire, the comic and parody. The final chapter presents the functions and purpose of the grotesque in literature. This book will be a useful resource for those studying literary theory and literary works which include an element of the grotesque.

Geoffrey Galt Harpham, On the Grotesque: Strategies of Contradiction in Art and Literature, The Davies Group, 1982. In this comprehensive, original, and wide-ranging study, Geoffrey Galt Harpham argues that we should view the grotesque not as a marginal or aberrant form, but rather as a key to central concepts in the Western artistic tradition. With discussions of pictorial and narrative art, and readings of theoretical statements by Kant, Hegel, Ruskin and others, this book expands our concept of the grotesque, and enriches our understanding of art itself. You can practically smell the tweed coming off this book. Erudite, comprehensive, and extremely ambitious. Harpham's varying formulations of the grotesque's "essence"--the grotesque as an interval, a process, a set of traits, and a historically contradictory term--set off nicely his poststructuralist idea that the grotesque is a metaphor for art's totality itself.


Julia Kristeva, Powers on Horror: An Essay on Abjection (Pouvoirs de l’horreur, 1980), tr. Leon Roudiez, New York: Columbia UP, 1982. An excellent introduction to an aspect of contemporary French literature which has been allowed to become somewhat neglected in the current emphasis on para-philosophical modes of discourse. Kristeva is one of the leading voices in contemporary French criticism on Disgust.

John R Clark, The Modern Satiric Grotesque and Its Traditions, Kentucky UP, 1991. Thomas Mann predicted that no manner or mode in literature would be so typical or so pervasive in the twentieth century as the grotesque. Assuredly he was correct. The subjects and methods of our comic literature (and much of our other literature) are regularly disturbing and often repulsive -- no laughing matter. In this ambitious study, John R. Clark seeks to elucidate the major tactics and topics deployed in modern literary dark humor. In Part I he explores the satiric strategies of authors of the grotesque, strategies that undercut conventional usage and form: the de-basement of heroes, the denigration of language and style, the disruption of normative narrative technique, and even the debunking of authors themselves. Part II surveys major recurrent themes of grotesquerie: tedium, scatology, cannibalism, dystopia, and Armageddon or the end of the world. Clearly the literature of the grotesque is obtrusive and ugly, its effect morbid and disquieting -- and deliberately meant to be so. Grotesque literature may be unpleasant, but it is patently insightful. Indeed, as Clark shows, all of the strategies and topics employed by this literature stem from age-old and spirited traditions. Critics have complained about this grim satiric literature, asserting that it is dank, cheerless, unsavory, and negative. But such an interpretation is far too simplistic. On the contrary, as Clark demonstrates, such grotesque writing, in its power and its prevalence in the past and present, is in fact conventional, controlled, imaginative, and vigorous -- no mean achievements for any body of art.

Alain Gruber, ed., The History of Decorative Arts: The Renaissance and Mannerism in Europe, Abbeville Press, 1994.

James Luther Adams, ed., The Grotesque in Art and Literature: Theological Reflexions, Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1997. While there has been a growing interest in the use of grotesque imagery in art and literature, very little attention has been given to the religious and theological significance of such imagery. This fascinating book redresses that neglect by exploring the religious meaning of the grotesque and its importance as a subject for theological inquiry. Review by Justin Torres: "Standing always at the edge of society's consciousness is a group of artistic works that repel as they fascinate: the grotesque. Dismissed by the "respectable," and often condemned for their absurdity, incongruity, and perceived immorality, they nonetheless hold powerful sway in the popular imagination. Sordid pagan tales of incest and bloodletting, the medieval carnival, commedia dell'arte--these popular uprisings of the grotesque imagination reveal, through their marginalized position in the cultural scene, deep seated impulses that polite society has suppressed.
Yates surveys four major theoretical approaches to the grotesque-Wolfgang Kayser's grotesque as demonic "other," Mikhail Bahktin's edenic carnival, Geoffrey Harpham's notion of the grotesque as the process of becoming, and Ewa Kuryluk's feminist interpretation of the grotesque as an expression of subdued or oppressed "anti-worlds." Yates uses these theorists to identify major themes in grotesque art that speak to religious impulses: bafflement over the meaning of human existence; the dread of non-existence; man's ability to create; and our perception of the world as fallen.
Roger Hazelton's "The Grotesque, Theologically Considered" seems to express the central insight of this book: that the grotesque, like theology, forces us to reflect on mystery properly conceived. As Hazelton says:
"Mystery is not a synonym for residual ignorance which will be dispelled when the sciences get around to it. Neither can it simply be equated with the unknown or unknowable. ... Theology and grotesque art ... find a certain affinity in a common persuasion that mystery remains a real and radical feature of our existing in the world-something not reducible to the aims and methods of technical expertise ... thus compelling other kinds of human response and acknowledgment."
For Hazelton, the grotesque, in expressing the mystery of Being recalls to us theology's enunciation of "that abiding, confiding trust and loyalty called faith."
Also notable in this collection is Wolfgang Stechow's consideration of Hieronymus Bosch, whose Garden of Earthly Delights was placed by Spain's King Philip II at the altar of the Escorial. Bosch has long been a puzzle to art critics and the faithful alike. Praised by a Spanish monk at the time of its completion as a bold representation of man "as he is on the inside," the painting, with Dante's Inferno, ranks among the best commentaries of the grotesque nature of sin. The book also boasts an excellent examination of the gravedigger's scene from Hamlet and a previously unpublished play by Robert Penn Warren, Ballad of a Sweet Dream of Peace: A Charade for Easter.
Still, in all, The Grotesque in Art and Literature is fascinating reading: well written, insightful, synthesizing various disciplinary approaches in an attempt to gain a view of the whole subject. Moreover, the subject of the grotesque may well become one of great interest to believers in the postmodern era. As American culture itself becomes more and more grotesque, there may be much insight to gain from art and literature that stands on the cultural edge and gazes back to the center."

Timothy Hyman and Roger Malbert, Carnivalesque, London: Hayward Gallery, 2000.
Carnivalesque explores the history of humor and the grotesque imagination in Western art from the Middle Ages to the present day. It is structured around four themes: the Tumultuous Crowd, the World Turned Upside-down, the Comic Mask, and the Grotesque Body.
The book includes seventy illustrations, with essays by co-curators Timothy Hyman and Roger Malbert. Illustrations range from medieval woodcuts and misericords to drawings, paintings, and prints by Brueghel, Jacques Callot, the Tiepolos, James Gillray, and Francisco Goya. Popular imagery from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is set alongside satirical prints by Daumier, James Ensor, and Max Beckmann. Recent and contemporary works include sculpture by Louise Bourgeois and Paul McCarthy, paintings by Paula Rego and Red Grooms, and video installations by Marisa Carnesky and Leigh Bowery.

Santa Fe, SITE, Disparities & Deformations - Our Grotesque, July 2004-January 2005. Essay by Robert Storr.
ISBN-10: 0970077483
ISBN-13: 978-0970077486
Historically speaking, "grotesque" first referred to the bizarre motifs discovered in Nero's palaces in the 15th century--strange hybridities of plant, animal, and human forms. Such whimsies became fodder for Renaissance masters and later for Baroque, Rococo, Romantic, modern, and postmodern artists. For the Site Sante Fe Fifth International Biennial Exhibition, invited curator Robert Storr examines contemporary embodiments of the grotesque tradition in art, a spirit which unites formal opposites: emotional and intellectual conflicts, beauty and ugliness, delight and delirium, tragedy and comedy. Producing an art of revelatory impurities that encompasses both the wondrous and the disturbing, the grotesque has informed many of the key postmodern movements in art and culture. The Biennial brings together internationally known artists working in a wide range of media, subject matter, and conceptual and aesthetic approaches, including Louise Bourgeois, Bruce Conner, Inka Essenhigh, Tom Friedman, Ellen Gallagher, Robert Gober, Douglas Gordon, Paul McCarthy, Sigmar Polke, Susan Rothenberg, Jenny Saville, Cindy Sherman, and Kara Walker.

Curatorial statement, by Robert Storr. The term "grotesque" is commonly used as a pejorative epithet—"How grotesque!" typically meaning how obscene, how gruesome, or how ridiculous. The word is not, however, meant in this way here. Or perhaps it would be better to say, it is not meant only in this way—some of the greatest grotesques are none of those things and some are those things and more.
Historically speaking, "grotesque," which derives from the Italian word "grotto," first referred to the strange motifs discovered when the ruins of Nero’s palaces were unearthed in the 15th century, and their heavily ornamented interiors came to light. Unlike their classical counterparts, these late Roman ornaments were characterized by surprising hybridities—bizarre fusions of plant, animal, and human forms with completely invented filigree added on. Such antique whimsies became an inspiration to Renaissance masters like Raphael and Dürer. Subsequently, the grotesque intermittently preoccupied and gave license to artists during the Baroque, Rococo, Romantic, modern, and postmodern periods. Over the centuries, the grotesque spirit has evolved into parallel traditions of widely various permutations, some figurative and others abstract, some fanciful and others nightmarish, some comic and others harrowing, some exquisite and others unapologetically vulgar.
If there is any unifying principle or spirit to the work that can be fairly as well as favorably described as "grotesque," it is that of contradiction. Grotesques body forth the world’s ambiguities and people’s ambivalences in ways that make them impossible to ignore or deny. They signal the point at which logical and emotional certainties waver, taste loses it bearings, and familiar realities warp into disorienting paradoxes. It is, in the words of the nineteenth century writer Jean Paul, a state of "soul dizziness."
If ever there was a moment when the factors that stimulate the grotesque dimensions of the imagination were in flux, this is one of them. The purpose of this exhibition, then, is to bring together a diverse group of contemporary works that in one way or another respond and give new substance to those dynamics and this broad sensibility. An international group of artists of different generations and approaches, coming from various cultural contexts and working in various mediums, will be asked to participate. In gathering this group of artists around the exhibition's theme, the aim is neither to historicize their art nor force it into a fixed or homogenous category but rather to highlight the elements of inherent, usually critical, contradiction within distinct aesthetic practices while showing that the grotesque—a quality seemingly encapsulated by one word—has many reasons for being and a nearly infinite number of guises.

Umberto Eco, ed., On Ugliness, Rizzoli, 2007. In the mold of his acclaimed History of Beauty, renowned cultural critic Umberto Eco’s On Ugliness is an exploration of the monstrous and the repellant in visual culture and the arts. What is the voyeuristic impulse behind our attraction to the gruesome and the horrible? Where does the magnetic appeal of the sordid and the scandalous come from? Is ugliness also in the eye of the beholder? Eco’s encyclopedic knowledge and captivating storytelling skills combine in this ingenious study of the Ugly, revealing that what we often shield ourselves from and shun in everyday life is what we’re most attracted to subliminally. Topics range from Milton’s Satan to Goethe’s Mephistopheles; from witchcraft and medieval torture tactics to martyrs, hermits, and penitents; from lunar births and disemboweled corpses to mythic monsters and sideshow freaks; and from Decadentism and picturesque ugliness to the tacky, kitsch, and camp, and the aesthetics of excess and vice. With abundant examples of painting and sculpture ranging from ancient Greek amphorae to Bosch, Brueghel, and Goya among others, and with quotations from the most celebrated writers and philosophers of each age, this provocative discussion explores in-depth the concepts of evil, depravity, and darkness in art and literature.

Alessandra Zamperini, Ornament and the Grotesque: Fantastical Decoration from Antiquity to Art Nouveau, Thames & Hudson, 2008. A lavish survey of the grotesque style in European painting and decoration, from Roman times to the late nineteenth century. In the fifteenth century, the ruins of Nero's Domus Aurea were discovered in Rome. The first explorers to enter the interior of this spectacular palace complex had the sensation of finding themselves in a series of grottoes, and this is why the fanciful frescoes and floor mosaics discovered there were called "grotesques." A fashionable form of ornamentation in ancient Rome, grotesques consist of loosely connected motifs, often incorporating human figures, birds, animals, and monsters, and arranged around medallions filled with painted scenes. Fifteenth-century artists such as Perugino, Signorelli, Filippino Lippi, and Mantegna copied the ancient Roman examples; the most famous use of the style was Raphael's Loggie in the Vatican Palace, which became immensely famous and influential all over Europe. This magnificently illustrated book covers the entire history of the grotesque in European art, from its Roman origins through the Renaissance to the late nineteenth century. It illuminates how grotesque decoration was transformed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries into arabesque, chinoiserie, and singeries, and how it continued in the nineteenth century, leading eventually to Art Nouveau.

Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World (1965), Indiana UP, 2009. This classic work by the Russian philosopher and literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin (1895—1975) examines popular humor and folk culture in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, especially the world of carnival, as depicted in the novels of François Rabelais. In Bakhtin's view, the spirit of laughter and irreverence prevailing at carnival time is the dominant quality of Rabelais's art. The work of both Rabelais and Bakhtin springs from an age of revolution, and each reflects a particularly open sense of the literary text. For both, carnival, with its emphasis on the earthly and the grotesque, signified the symbolic destruction of authority and official culture and the assertion of popular renewal. Bakhtin evokes carnival as a special, creative life form, with its own space and time.
Written in the Soviet Union in the 1930s at the height of the Stalin era but published there for the first time only in 1965, Bakhtin's book is both a major contribution to the poetics of the novel and a subtle condemnation of the degeneration of the Russian revolution into Stalinist orthodoxy. One of the essential texts of a theorist who is rapidly becoming a major reference in contemporary thought, Rabelais and His World is essential reading for anyone interested in problems of language and text and in cultural interpretation.
Bakhtin richly documents the range and scope of the popular-festive culture that is the hero of his book, its ancient roots, the vigorous life it enjoyed in the Middle Ages, its entry into important literature in the Renaissance, even the considerable traces of it that still survive after centuries of repression.

Cristina Acidini Luchinat, Grotesques: The Painted Ceilings at the Uffizi, Italy: Giunti, 2009. The Uffizi Gallery is one of the world's most famous museums, and is home to some of the finest works of art in Western history, but it is not only the walls that are adorned with art. This volume explores the frescoes or 'grotesques' painted on the ceilings of the Uffizi.

Harold Bloom, The Grotesque, Chelsea House, 2009. The grotesque, often defined as something fantastically distorted that attracts and repels, is a concept that has various meanings in literature. This new volume contains twenty essays that explore the role of the grotesque in such works as Candide, Frankenstein, King Lear, The Metamorphosis, and many others. Some essays have been written specifically for the series; others are excerpts of important critical analyses from selected books and journals. Introductory essay by Harold Bloom. Original essays and excerpts from published critical analyses that discuss the literary theme of the grotesque considering authors as varied as Aristophanes, Nikolai Gogol, Edgar Allan Poe, and Flannery O'Connor. Index for easy reference.

Frances Connelly, ed., Modern Art and the Grotesque, Cambridge UP, 2009. Examines how the grotesque has shaped the history, practice, and theory of art in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Shung-Liang Chao, Rethinking the Concept of the Grotesque: Crashaw, Baudelaire, Magritte, Legenda, 2010. How are we to define what is grotesque, in art or literature? Since the Renaissance the term has been used for anything from the fantastic to the monstrous, and been associated with many artistic genres, from the Gothic to the danse macabre. Shun-Liang Chao's study adopts a rigorous approach by establishing contradictory physicality and the notion of metaphor as two keys to the construction of a clear identity of the grotesque. With this approach, Chao explores the imagery of Richard Crashaw, Charles Baudelaire, and Rene Magritte as individual exemplars of the grotesque in the Baroque, Romantic, and Surrealist ages, in order to suggest a lineage of this curious aesthetic and to cast light on the functions of the visual and of the verbal in evoking it.

Istvan Czachesz, The Grotesque Body in Early Christian Discourse: Hell, Scatology and Metamorphosis, Equinox, 2011. Early Christian apocryphal and conical documents present us with grotesque images of the human body, often combining the playful and humorous with the repulsive, and fearful. First to third century Christian literature was shaped by the discourse around and imagery of the human body. This study analyses how the iconography of bodily cruelty and visceral morality was produced and refined from the very start of Christian history. The sources range across Greek comedy, Roman and Jewish demonology, and metamorphosis traditions. The study reveals how these images originated, were adopted, and were shaped to the service of a doctrinally and psychologically persuasive Christian message.

Markku Salmela & Jarkko Toikkanen, eds., The Grotesque and the Unnatural, Cambria, 2011. The grotesque has provided both laymen and scholars with extreme delights for centuries: from the ornamental combining of rare motifs in antiquity to a hybridisation of structural genres in recent times; from fantastical fusions of humans and beasts to comic exaggerations of bodily aberrations and prosthetic postmodern visions. Eluding clear classification at all times, the notion has often been identified with ideas of contradiction and conflation and observed in relation to principles and categories such as estrangement (Wolfgang Kayser) and carnival (Mikhail Bakhtin), the sublime (Victor Hugo) and Victorian Gothic imagination (John Ruskin). In this context, the present volume appears as a synthesis and radical questioning of existing historical developments. The book contributes to current discussions on the grotesque in contemporary literary and cultural theory from the perspective of one specific motif: the unnatural. Quite like the grotesque, observing the unnatural (and unnaturalness) reveals a resilient strain in critical thought, and the significance of this history gradually unfolds as the volume charts the progress of its main themes from the Renaissance to the present day. While in much current talk about theory and criticism certain related notions are still posited for and against each other--what is seen as normal or natural and what is not, and what should be seen as normal or natural and what should not--the discussions in The Grotesque and the Unnatural go a long way toward founding a new vista from which to observe this beguiling opposition. The book presents a new perspective on the grotesque by considering it as a phenomenon which comes into being only through a negation of sorts, yet refusing to place it in a simple, normative pattern as nature's antithesis or expressive gesture. As the articles demonstrate, the grotesque is always in the process of subverting or surpassing something, always not being ideal or sufficient to either nature or a social rule, and this very negation affects its status as a tool of transformation or emancipation from norm: the grotesque figure does not represent any particular stage of development or natural state of being. As such, the grotesque hints at and hinges on something that exceeds habitual spheres of culture and communication but, as the book aims to show, this elusiveness of meaning gives no cause for analytic despair. By tracing the involutions of the grotesque with the unnatural in specific literary cases, the book evokes centuries of Western cultural history and ultimately focuses on two questions: How and why does the grotesque tend to negate nature, and how does it affect our understanding of what we see? The diverse materials and historical scope of The Grotesque and the Unnatural make the book, in its exceptional thematic unity, a valuable addition to the fields of literary and cultural studies.

Justin D. Edwards and Rune Graulund, Grotesque, New York: Routledge, 2013. Grotesque provides an invaluable and accessible guide to the use (and abuse) of this complex literary term. Justin D. Edwards and Rune Graulund explore the influence of the grotesque on cultural forms throughout history, with particular focus on its representation in literature, visual art and film. The book: presents a history of the literary grotesque from Classical writing to the present; examines theoretical debates around the term in their historical and cultural contexts; introduces readers to key writers and artists of the grotesque, from Homer to Rabelais, Shakespeare, Carson McCullers and David Cronenberg; analyses key terms such as disharmony, deformed and distorted bodies, misfits and freaks; explores the grotesque in relation to queer theory, post-colonialism and the carnivalesque.
Grotesque presents readers with an original and distinctive overview of this vital genre and is an essential guide for students of literature, art history and film studies.

France Connelly, The Grotesque in Western Art and Culture: The Image at Play, Cambridge UP, 2014. Establishes a fresh and expansive view of the grotesque in Western art and culture, from 1500 to the present day. Following the non-linear evolution of the grotesque, Frances S. Connelly analyzes key works, situating them within their immediate social and cultural contexts, as well as their place in the historical tradition. By taking a long historical view, the book reveals the grotesque to be a complex and continuous tradition comprising several distinct strands: the ornamental, the carnivalesque and caricatural, the traumatic and the profound. The book articulates a model for understanding the grotesque as a rupture of cultural boundaries that compromises and contradicts accepted realities. Connelly demonstrates that the grotesque is more than a style, genre or subject; it is a cultural phenomenon engaging the central concerns of the humanistic debate today. Hybrid, ambivalent and changeful, the grotesque is a shaping force in the modern era.

Ugliness: The Non-Beautiful in Art and Theory, ed. Andrei Pop and Mechtild Widrich, London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2014. Ugliness is very much alive in the history of art. From ritual invocations of mythic monsters to the scare tactics of the early twentieth-century avant-garde, from the cabinet of curiosities to the identity politics of today, the ugly has been every bit as active as the beautiful, and often much more of a reality… Why then has it been so neglected? This book seeks to remedy this oversight through both broad theoretical reflection and concrete case studies of ugliness in various historical and cultural contexts. The protagonists range from cooks to psychoanalysts, from war prostheses to plates of asparagus, on a world stage stretching from ancient Athens to Singapore today. Drawing across disciplinary and cultural boundaries, the writers illuminate why ugliness, associated over the millennia with negative categories ranging from sin and stupidity to triviality and boredom, remains central to art and cultural practice.

The Grotesque and Its Relatives

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