Project 7: A little more thought on the Grotesque

This project is proving harder than I originally thought it would be. Coming back and looking at the grid rendering of blood in my last post deflated me a bit. I don’t think it offers the evocation of intensity I want. I thought a little more research into the grotesque might help and had used the University’s electronic library services to find two interesting books that followed up my initial reading of Coleman’s The Grotesque in Photography.  These are Modern Art and the Grotesque (Connelly 2009) and Modern American Grotesque: Literature and Photography Goodwin, 2009).

The authors made many useful points and so I will just list two that particularly struck a chord with me in relation to this work.

Early on the differentiation between the sublime and grotesque is made by Connelly (at page 4) where the former is defined as boundless, overwhelming and beyond reason and the latter struggling with the boundaries of the known, conventional and understood. This made sense to me and thus by implication places Blood in the latter category.

“Over the course of the twentieth century, a powerful cultural lineage of the modern grotesque evolved in the fiction of American writers Sherwood Anderson, Nathanael West, and Flannery O’Connor and in the images of American photographers Weegee and Diane Arbus. In their work the grotesque deploys a wilfully oblique, partial, deforming, and contentious perspective that yields a comprehension of society and culture not otherwise possible.” (Goodwin, 2009, P1)

Goodwin makes the point that the grotesque is not about pure entertainment but rather reflects an attitude to society. I absolutely agree with this and think it relates to issues of liminality whereby people create and define others as freaks and sub humans to bolster their own self-worth. That is there are always reasons sitting underneath the issues presented for entertainment.

What does this mean for my work?
I think this little exploration has been helpful and I am going to try a wholly different tack. Instead of trying to amplify and emphasise the blood I am going to try and make a visual statement with it that is contradictory and puzzling and this will invite the viewer to really have to think about what I am saying.

Connelly, F. S. (ed) (2009) Modern Art and the Grotesque, Published by Cambridge University Press

Goodwin, J. (2009) Modern American Grotesque: Literature and Photography, Published by Ohio State University Press


About Pete

South Londoner struggling with life, art and photography.
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2 Responses to Project 7: A little more thought on the Grotesque

  1. paul490280 says:

    Hi Pete, I have a book called ‘But is it art?’ by Cynthia Freeland which has a chapter on blood and beauty. If you can get hold of a copy easily then might be worth a look but it doesn’t go in to great detail so not a vital source of reference. The back page says “She discusses the relationship of art with beauty, culture, money, sex, and new technology, and draws on examples from Rembrandt, Goya, and Damien Hirst to African nail fetishes, Indian Pueblo dancing and MTV”. An ideal introduction it says..


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