Comic Grotesque: Wit And Mockery In German Art, 1870-1940

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9783791331959: Comic Grotesque: Wit And Mockery In German Art, 1870-1940
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Filled with irreverent wit, comical elements, and absurdist humor, the comic-grotesque has fascinated artists since ancient times. However, it was not until the late nineteenth century that it reemerged as a novel modernist method. The comic-grotesque can best be characterized by what it does to boundaries, transgressing, merging, overflowing and collapsing them. This volume, which accompanies an exhibition at Neue Galerie New York, begins with Arnold Bocklin's comic-grotesque pictorial compositions. It brings together a dazzling array of artists--including Paul Klee, Max Klinger, Alfred Kubin, Emil Nolde, and Max Ernst--who, inspired by his example, forged a unique aesthetic with enormous consequences for modern German art. Essays consider the connection between the visual arts and the rise of cabaret culture and satirical journals. In addition, the authors examine the legacy of the comic-grotesque in relationship to the denunciation of Bocklin's art around 1905 and its eventual reemergence around 1919 in the work of the Dadaists. With over 100 full-color plates and dozens of black-and-white illustrations, this striking collection traces the evolution of a largely ignored, but immensely influential movement in modern art.

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From Publishers Weekly:

A skeleton urinates in a river, demons torment sobbing broken men, and the devil mates with Salome to infect the Pope with syphilis in this history of the mania for the bizarre in German visual art, performance and literature. The book, produced in conjunction with an exhibition at the Neue Galerie in New York, begins with curator Kort's essay on the symbolist painter Arnold Bocklin, who produced lushly painted scenes of mythic figures and monsters at play. As the book goes on, the genres become less traditional, encompassing the fields of photography, collage and even puppetry. In addition, the images themselves become more abstract, as lurid mélanges of male, female and animal bodies form comic nightmares. Certainly, the horror of two world wars and the rise of fascism had an influence on the explosion of art produced in the comic grotesque mode in Germany, particularly in the Expressionist, Dada and Surrealist schools. However, as Frances S. Connelly and Robert Storr point out in this book's essays, the comic grotesque style has been something of a constant in Western Art, and is well represented today by artists like Cindy Sherman. The degree to which the works on display in this handsome collection still disquiet, shock and move us is a testament not only to the imagination of the artists who produced them, but also to the ongoing depravities of war and violence.
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Review:

"Any follower of art from German-speaking countries, weather produced by Albert Oehlen or Franz West, will profit from this volume." -- Bookforum, February 2005

"Recommended... for the serious art library collection. Over a hundred plates or illustrations pack a fine presentation." -- Bookwatch, February 2005

"Scholarly and ambitious... Good color reproductions." -- Choice, April 2005

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