Grotesque: Ancient and Modern


“In the famous Kerch terracotta collection we find figurines of senile pregnant hags. Moreover, the old hags are laughing. This is a typical and very strongly expressed grotesque.  It is ambivalent.  It is pregnant death, a death that gives birth.  There is nothing completed, nothing calm and stable in the bodies of these old hags. They combine a senile, decaying and deformed flesh with the flesh of new life, conceived but as yet unformed. Life is shown in its two-fold contradictory process; it is the epitome of incompleteness. And such is the grotesque concept of the body.”

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx(Mikhail Bakhtin: Rabelais and His World)

The word “Grotesque” was originally employed to describe a late Roman style of decoration first uncovered in the excavations of Roman baths around 1500, and we can see it in the upper panels of Nero’s Golden House.

Golden House

Since then the term has evolved in numberless…

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About anthonyhowelljournal

Poet, essayist, dancer, performance artist....
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