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Book review: Jenny Anger on Frances S. Connelly, The Grotesque in Western Art and Culture: The Image at Play

22 January 2015

Grappling with the grotesque

Review of:

Frances S. Connelly, The Grotesque in Western Art and Culture: The Image at Play, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012, 190 pp., 62 b & w illus., £64.99 hdbk, ISBN 9781107011250

Jenny Anger 13/JA1

Abstract: Frances S. Connelly’s The Grotesque in Western Art and Culture: The Image at Play is an exciting new book that ruptures art-historical conventions as much as does her subject, the grotesque. The generally chronological approach examines four interwoven strands: improvisation, subversion, trauma, and revelation in successive chapters. Although Horace’s classical injunction against the grotesque is a touchstone, the book surveys relevant art principally from the fifteenth-century, when the grottesche at Nero’s Domus Aurea in Rome were discovered, to the twentieth. This review provides an overall assessment of the book and enumerates each chapter’s contents.

Keywords: grotesque, improvisation, ornament, arabesque, subversion, trauma, l’informe, play, revelation

 

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