This book 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.
Frances S. Connelly is Professor of Art History at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. She is the author of The Sleep of Reason: Primitivism in Modern European Art and Aesthetics and the editor of Modern Art and the Grotesque, and has published numerous articles and book chapters on topics pertaining to the intersection of art and anthropology.
1. Introduction: entering the Spielraum; 2. Improvisation I: grottesche; 3. Improvisation II: arabesques; 4. Subversion: the carnivalesque body; 5. Trauma: the failure of representation; 6. Revelation: profound play.