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Overview

grotesque

A term originally used in the visual arts to describe a type of fanciful wall decoration (painted, carved, or moulded in stucco) characterized by the use of interlinked floral motifs, ...

grotesque

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The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (4 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015

... Characterized by bizarre distortions, especially in the exaggerated or abnormal depiction of human features. The literature of the grotesque involves freakish caricatures of people’s appearance and behaviour, as in the novels of Dickens. A disturbingly odd fictional character may also be called a grotesque. Further reading: Justin Edwards and Runo Graulund , Grotesque ...

Grotesque

Grotesque   Reference library

Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable (19 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2013

... The word derives from Old Italian pittura grotesca , ‘cave painting’. The chambers of ancient buildings revealed in medieval times in Rome were called grottoes, and as their walls were frequently decorated with fanciful ornaments and designs, the word ‘grotesque’ came to be applied to similar...

grotesque

grotesque   Reference library

The Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
History, Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)
Length:
327 words

...bathroom ( stufetta ) in the Vatican; Raphael subsequently used grotesques in the Vatican Loggias ( c. 1519 ), and Giovanni da Udine , who had been largely responsible for the execution of Raphael's designs in the Vatican Loggias, later used grotesques in the Villa Madama ( 1520–1 ). From the 1530s onwards, the foliage associated with grotesques was usually executed in arabesques . Engravings of Raphael's grotesques were soon circulating all over Europe, and established a fashion for grotesques that was to persevere for centuries, not only in decorative...

Grotesque

Grotesque   Reference library

Encyclopedia of Aesthetics

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2008
Subject:
Art & Architecture, Philosophy
Length:
4,057 words

...and is most directly contrasted to the beautiful. This type of grotesque frequently overlaps with caricature and even with realism. The combinatory, or mixed, grotesque includes such figures as the centaur, griffin, and minotaur, all conjoined creatures that defy reason and nature, whereas the metamorphic grotesque describes figures that appear to be in the process of transmuting from one form or substance to another. The metamorphic grotesque is in state of flux, whereas the combinatory grotesque presents a fixed relationship, however strange, and often...

grotesque

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The Oxford Dictionary of Architecture (4 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2021
Subject:
Art & Architecture
Length:
145 words

... 1. Capricious Classical ornament (properly grottesque ) consisting of animals, figures, flowers, foliage, fruits, and sphinxes , all connected together, and distinct from arabesques which do not have animal or humanoid representations. It is so called after the Antique decorations rediscovered (1488) during the Renaissance period in buried ruins of Roman buildings called grotte . Grotesques as a type of decoration were revived by Raphael (so sometimes called Raphaelesques ), and were used at the Vatican Loggie (from c .1515) and the ...

Grotesque

Grotesque   Reference library

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2006
Subject:
Literature, Children's literature studies
Length:
1,460 words

... . Even though grotesque elements abound in books made for children, the grotesque in children's literature as such has found very little critical attention. Definitions Like many critical terms, the grotesque eludes simple definition. Most critics agree that the grotesque is not a literary genre but rather an aesthetic category, or mode, that can be found in the visual arts as well as in literature and even in objects in daily use. What distinguishes the grotesque from most other aesthetic categories is that it is not an expression of norms but rather...

grotesque

grotesque   Reference library

Michael Hollington

The Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2011
Subject:
Literature, Literary studies (19th century)
Length:
768 words

...sensibility to the grotesque’ when he describes the germ of Great Expectations (the idea of Magwitch's sponsorship of Pip) as ‘a fine, new and grotesque idea’, and later as ‘the grotesque tragicomic conception that first encouraged me’. But Dickens's love of the grotesque was by no means acceptable to all Victorians. Thomas Mann saw how it belongs in a popular tradition, and carries elements of a subversion of Victorian bourgeois values, when he wrote in 1926 , with reference to Conrad and Dickens: ‘it will be conceded that the grotesque is an essentially...

grotesque

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Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins (3 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2021
Subject:
Language reference, History of English
Length:
129 words

...grotesque [M16th] We think of something grotesque as being ugly or distorted, either in a comic or a repulsive way, but when the word first appeared in English in the 16th century it simply described the style of painting found in a grotto, specifically the murals discovered in ancient Roman ruins. These decorative wall paintings involved interweaving human and animal forms with flowers and foliage. Grotesque comes from Italian grottesca , which was used in the phrases opera grottesca ‘work resembling that found in a grotto’, and pittura grottesca ...

grotesque

grotesque   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Western Art

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2003
Subject:
Art & Architecture
Length:
380 words

...and refined interpretation. Whilst in England, Robert Adam featured grotesque ornament in his Etruscan Dressing Room at Osterley Park House, (Middx.) in 1775 . When applied to other fields of art the word came to mean what is intrinsically strange, incongruous with ordinary experience, contrary to natural order. Ruskin 's treatment of the grotesque had the effect of establishing it as a respectable artistic genre and in Modern Painters ( 1843–60 ) he wrote: ‘A fine grotesque is the expression, in a moment, by a series of symbols thrown together in...

grotesque

grotesque   Reference library

The Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010
Subject:
History, Early history (500 CE to 1500)
Length:
60 words

... ( babewyn ) The monsters, hybrid men and animals, and other curiosities, often parodying everyday scenes, that occupy the marginal areas of medieval art. The term originated in the 16th century in reference to antique wall paintings. See also drollery . Libby Karlinger Escobedo M. Camille , Image on the Edge (1992). L. Randall , Images in the Margins of Gothic Manuscripts ...

Grotesque

Grotesque   Reference library

Frances S. Connelly

Encyclopedia of Aesthetics (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2014
Subject:
Art & Architecture, Philosophy
Length:
4,533 words
Illustration(s):
1

... . “The grotesque” describes a category of images that fits uneasily within the field of Western aesthetics and art history. The relative neglect of the grotesque may be attributed in part to the classical foundations of these disciplines. The grotesque represents the inverse of beauty and design so central to the classical ideal. This ideal is exemplified in the techniques of the famed Greek artist Zeuxis, who combined the best features of several models in order to create one figure of perfect, unified beauty. In contrast, the grotesque is formed by...

Grotesque

Grotesque   Reference library

The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2006
Subject:
Art & Architecture
Length:
1,766 words
Illustration(s):
1

...In the 19th century grotesque ornament was often featured in such Renaissance Revival interiors as those at Chatsworth (1840s), Derbys, and Longleat, Wilts, by the Crace family of decorators. The 20th-century ethos no longer favoured the elegant decorative qualities of the grotesque, the whimsical, fanciful motifs disciplined within a classical format. N. Dacos : La Découverte de la Domus Aurea et la formation des grotesques à la Renaissance (London and Leiden, 1969) A. Chastel : La Grotesque (Paris, 1988) P. Morel : Les Grotesques: Les Figures de...

Grotesque

Grotesque   Reference library

Rune Graulund

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Literary Theory

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2022

...deemed grotesque. Indeed, the grotesque is perhaps at its most effective not when we enter a world totally different from our own, but when we encounter “extreme incongruity” in a world that otherwise seems congruous. 2 While it is difficult to define the grotesque itself, or even the “relatively positive or negative character of our encounter with the grotesque,” we can at least initially identify a range of traits commonly associated with the grotesque, namely disharmony, hybridity, excess, exaggeration, and transgression. 3 In short, the grotesque is...

grotesque

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The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010
Subject:
Art & Architecture
Length:
205 words

...of these buildings. They were soon copied by Italian artists and their designs were disseminated in the form of prints. The use of grotesque decoration spread throughout Europe in the 16th century. Raphael incorporated it into his decoration of the Vatican Loggia ( 1518–19 ) and in France it constituted one of the main achievements of the Fontainebleau School . In the 18th century there was a strong revival of interest in grotesque ornament, both in the development of the Rococo style, and in the renewed exploration of Roman domestic decoration following the...

grotesque

grotesque   Reference library

The Oxford Dictionary of Art (3 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
Art & Architecture
Length:
156 words

... . A term originally used in the visual arts to describe a type of fanciful wall decoration (painted, carved, or moulded in stucco ) characterized by the use of interlinked floral motifs, animal and human figures, masks, etc., often arranged in an vertical, column-like format. Such decoration was inspired by the ornament found in the excavated rooms (popularly called grotte , ‘grottoes’) of certain ancient Roman buildings, notably the Golden House of Nero in Rome, which began to be uncovered at the end of the 15th century. During the 16th century this...

grotesque

grotesque   Quick reference

The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (5 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
Art & Architecture
Length:
156 words

... A term originally used in the visual arts to describe a type of fanciful wall decoration (painted, carved, or moulded in stucco ) characterized by the use of interlinked floral motifs, animal and human figures, masks, etc., often arranged in a vertical, column-like format. Such decoration was inspired by the ornament found in the excavated rooms (popularly called grotte : ‘grottoes’) of certain ancient Roman buildings, notably the Golden House of Nero in Rome, which began to be uncovered at the end of the 15th century. During the 16th century this kind...

Grotesque

Grotesque   Reference library

The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2009
Subject:
Art & Architecture
Length:
1,245 words

...Main Streams and Tributaries in European Ornament, 1500–1750 ’, V&A Mus. Bull ., 3 (1967), pp. 58–70, 90–103 N. Dacos : La Découverte de la Domus Aurea et la formation des grotesques à la Renaissance (London and Leiden, 1969) A. Chastel : La Grotesque (Paris, 1988) The Grotesque: Ornamental Prints from the British Museum (exh. cat., London, BM, 1995) D. Iehl : Le grotesque (Paris, 1997) Grotesken: Det levende ornament (exh. cat. by U. Houkjaer ; Copenhagen, Kstindustmus.,...

Netherlands Grotesque

Netherlands Grotesque   Quick reference

The Oxford Dictionary of Architecture (4 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2021
Subject:
Art & Architecture
Length:
35 words

...Grotesque C16 grotesque ornament combined with strapwork , entwined with human figures, invented by Flemish Mannerists such as de Vries , so should be termed Flemish Grotesque. L & D ( 1986 )...

grotesque, theatre of the

grotesque, theatre of the   Reference library

Nick Worrall

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
Performing arts, Theatre
Length:
369 words

...Hugo defended the grotesque in art as a means of contrast, especially when injected into a classic play where nobility of tone is monotonously dominant. In the twentieth century, G. Wilson Knight famously described King Lear as ‘a comedy of the grotesque’. Ruskin saw the grotesque as a feature of Gothic architecture, where the heavenward trajectory is constantly interrupted by grotesque reminders of hell in gargoyle shape. This idea was developed by Meyerhold in one of the best essays on the significance of the theatrical grotesque, The Fairground...

theatre of the grotesque

theatre of the grotesque   Reference library

The Continuum Companion to Twentieth Century Theatre

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010
Subject:
Performing arts, Theatre
Length:
59 words

...of the grotesque A movement in Italian drama during and after the First World War involving such authors as Chiarelli , Roso di San Secondo ( 1887–1956 ) and, most prominently, Pirandello . It utilized fantasy to depict contrasts between appearance and reality, faces and masks, pathetic situations and farcical humour. Marvin Carlson See also grand guignol ; theatre of the absurd...

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