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Higgins
05-13-2007, 05:41 PM
Having had some lucky encounters with wall paintings from 1st century villas near Pompeii a few months ago, I've been pursuing some questions about this art, which seems to have evolved very rapidly during the Late Republic and reached some extreme elaboration during the decoration of Nero's Golden House. The art doesn't fit the schemes of Classical Art in any obvious way and I've found that Vitruvius (writing at about that time) seems to agree with me. Or so I found in J. Elsner's Art and the Roman Viewer (reviews at):


http://www.arlisna.org/artdoc/1996/may/05.pdf

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb3284/is_199609/ai_n7982889

http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/1996/96.04.31.html

Anyway, according to Elsner, Vitruvius approved of the first two stylistic schemes where the viewer looks out of fake windows on the real walls and sees relatively complete landscapes: ie a completely fake world with a fake world in it. This does not disturb Vitruvius. What worries Vitruvius is what happens in the third and fourth styles, where the elements of what is fake don't stay in a simple and easy-to-read order. One can find landscapes without windows. They are just there on the wall. One can find images of things that ought to be in the room close to the wall, but these are reassembled in unlikely ways and even the parts of the parts are reassembled in such a way that the fluidity of motif that results in the specific style called "grotesque" (named for the servents quarters of Nero's Golden House which were explored during the High Renaissance resulting in the grotesque craze that swept the Western World until well into the 1530s so that it turns up for example in Winchester Cathedral on the outside of the reboxed remains of the mixed bones that were dug up there then during renovations).

So my question is: is it a slippery slope? Once forms become fluid...are you always bound for the grotesque or is that an Art Historical Illusion caused by the fact that Vasari wrote during High Mannerism and well before Winkelman supposedly invented Classical Art History while Vitruvius codeified what was Classical but excluded half of the styles of his own time?

kiplet
05-13-2007, 08:28 PM
That does tend to depend on how one defines “grotesque”: a specific style inspired and influenced by monstrosities painted on grotto walls, or a general descriptor of what happens to art when technique gets confused, forgetful, the play larded with queasy, inside jokes and forced laughter. If the former, not so much; if the latter, well, I’ve always thought the grotesque to be the triumph of manner: modus gratia modi. Contemporary superhero comics, for instance, are tidally locked by slavish devotion to unquestioned and unquestionable forms, and they are nothing if not grotesque. (By both definitions, if one were to look at that strain of the art popularized by Liefeld.)

ColoradoGuy
05-13-2007, 08:53 PM
That does tend to depend on how one defines “grotesque”: a specific style inspired and influenced by monstrosities painted on grotto walls, or a general descriptor of what happens to art when technique gets confused, forgetful, the play larded with queasy, inside jokes and forced laughter.
Agreed. Perhaps the distinction is between grotesque and Grotesque. On the other hand, it can be hard for me to tell if the artist has some wink-wink-nudge-nudge subtext going on, in which case highly mannered art becomes a comment on the mannerisms.

kdnxdr
07-27-2007, 08:50 PM
I once found a book written in the 1800's, The Philosophy of Humor. I lost the book before ever haing the chance to read it. Does anyone know anything about this specific book?

The reason I ask is that, in my ignorance, I often wonder if humor, in whatever medium it is expressed, is a public's response of coping with difficulties perceived in statements made. Is humor an attempt to difuse and render an opposing view/statement as less dynamic and less likely to be suppressive?

Higgins
08-05-2007, 12:56 AM
I once found a book written in the 1800's, The Philosophy of Humor. I lost the book before ever haing the chance to read it. Does anyone know anything about this specific book?

The reason I ask is that, in my ignorance, I often wonder if humor, in whatever medium it is expressed, is a public's response of coping with difficulties perceived in statements made. Is humor an attempt to difuse and render an opposing view/statement as less dynamic and less likely to be suppressive?

Sounds like Henri Bergson, but then what doesn't? One theory of humor that I always thought sounded plausible is that it brings up topics that make people uncomfortable and then allows for some way of dealing with them...and maybe having a little catharsis as well.

So each good joke is a small tragedy.

kdnxdr
08-05-2007, 09:02 PM
"So each good joke is a small tragedy."

Sokal, that is SO quotable!

The profundity is marvelous.

kid

ColoradoGuy
08-05-2007, 09:18 PM
It would probably sound even better in Yiddish--Medievalist, you out there?

Higgins
08-05-2007, 10:42 PM
It would probably sound even better in Yiddish--Medievalist, you out there?

Or see Freud on Yiddish jokes or the Book Born to Kvetch...by Michael Wex (weirdly funny and a good precaution against mistaking Litvach Yiddish for standard Yiddish)...The CDs of Wex reading the book are...hmmm...instructive.

payitforward
08-14-2007, 09:31 AM
Sorry, I could barely contain my enthusiasm here, since I teach an entire college course on the grotesque--one course in art, and the other in literature. If you want a fabulous book, check out "Modern Art and the Grotesque" by Frances Connelly, and if any of you want fabuloso links to some delicious art, let me know and I'll post them!

Toodles for now, but let's keep this conversation going!

Nancy

Higgins
08-14-2007, 06:17 PM
Sorry, I could barely contain my enthusiasm here, since I teach an entire college course on the grotesque--one course in art, and the other in literature. If you want a fabulous book, check out "Modern Art and the Grotesque" by Frances Connelly, and if any of you want fabuloso links to some delicious art, let me know and I'll post them!

Toodles for now, but let's keep this conversation going!

Nancy

I want fabuloso links to some delicious art.

payitforward
08-15-2007, 02:22 AM
Warning though--the grotesque always mixes the sacred with the profane, so some of it might be disturbing.....

But some quick links:

Some links:
http://www.spaightwoodgalleries.com/Pages/Goya.html (http://www.spaightwoodgalleries.com/Pages/Goya.html) Goya’s caprichios
http://www.artnet.com/artist/14945/jenny-saville.html (http://www.artnet.com/artist/14945/jenny-saville.html) Jenny Saville
http://www.markryden.com/ (http://www.markryden.com/) Go to “the meat show” and others. Creepy and funny, blurs the boundaries
http://edelmangallery.com/witkin.htm#10 (http://edelmangallery.com/witkin.htm#10) Joel Peter Witkin—who loves to be ironic when referencing other great works of art
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgbDD5YL31Y (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgbDD5YL31Y) Watch the Hell panel of Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights come alive


Some artists:
Arcimboldo
Hieronymus Bosch
Peter Bruegel (the Elder)
Peter Flotner
Francisco Goya[
Edvard Munch

Matthias Grunewald

Odilon Redon
James Ensor
Victor Hugo

Pablo Picasso

George Grosz
Max Ernst
Remedios Varo
Max Beckmann


Otto Dix

Patricia Piccinini
Leonora Carrington
Man Ray
Frida Kahlo

Leonor Fini

Cindy Sherman
William Hogarth
Paul McCarthy
Joel Peter Witkin
Kiki Smith
Clayton Brothers
Francis Bacon
Jenny Saville
Mark Ryden

Higgins
08-15-2007, 05:53 AM
[quote=payitforward;1547885]Warning though--the grotesque always mixes the sacred with the profane, so some of it might be disturbing.....

http://www.markryden.com/ (http://www.markryden.com/) Go to “the meat show” and others. Creepy and funny, blurs the boundaries
http://edelmangallery.com/witkin.htm#10 (http://edelmangallery.com/witkin.htm#10) Joel Peter Witkin—who loves to be ironic when referencing other great works of art

Cindy Sherman
Joel Peter Witkin

Well, I'm in HTML hell...but I liked the way that a lot of the grotesque plays off of
some careful distortion of some classical approaches or frames or references as frames or frames of reference...just like the original grotesque in 1st Century Rome.

The Cindy Shermans that I saw maybe 18 years ago were all about presenting herself as one of those figures that turn up in Joel Peter Witkin...though with more color.

I liked seeing some odds and ends in Witkin: Sacred Love turns up on her sarcophagos as part of Humor and fear and an anamorphic skull turns up as seen sort of from the side in the Keretz in Edo. The half-way de-anamorphized skull is pretty classically grotesque...but I don't know what to make of Sacred Love turning up as Humor and fear personified.

Oh...and the Meatshow images...haunting.

wayndom
08-20-2007, 06:25 AM
"So each good joke is a small tragedy."

Sokal, that is SO quotable!

The profundity is marvelous.

kid

No argument here, but it's not a new idea. If I had a dime for every time I heard someone say, "we laugh to keep from crying," or some other wording of the exact same idea, I'd be sitting by the side of a canal in Amsterdam, pulling on my bong and wondering what the poor people are doing right now...

payitforward
11-17-2007, 05:32 AM
Hi All:

I forgot to add this website of websites on exploration of the grotesque:
http://davidlavery.net/Grotesque/

Also, Francis Connelly's Modern Art and the Grotesque is fabulous. I use it in my writing about art class (although the writing is pretty dense).

Just thought some of you might be interested. The end of my semester's almost in sight!!!

Lady Ice
11-22-2010, 12:58 AM
It was Hugo who said about mixing the Grotesque with the Sublime, wasn't it?

Maxx
11-22-2010, 05:51 PM
It was Hugo who said about mixing the Grotesque with the Sublime, wasn't it?


Here's an article on this topic. It mentions Ruskin. Sort of a surprise.

http://forum.llc.ed.ac.uk/archive/02/chao.pdf