When I first decided to start this project, blogging about the grotesque in art, I had an idea of what the grotesque is. Especially the time period that’s been my main interest for a long time – the 18th to 19th century, the neo-gothic literature, photography, et cetera.
Little did I know that the concept would be so much wider, so much more colourful in the abstract, than I could have ever imagined.
Now that I’ve begun diving into the medieval grotesque, I am realizing that the grotesque is not only the artwork itself, it is also the understanding of it. And from our side of time, it is damn near impossible to interpret and understand it as the people in the Middle Ages did.
Whereas later grotesqueri seems to focus more on the abstracts of the mind, the Middle Age grotesque appears to be more of a materialistic response to spiritual/religious/worldly rule. I am also of the impression that the medieval grotesque can be found pretty much anywhere in the arts, much depending on the subject of the work rather than the style. At least sometimes. Another perspective is that the medieval grotesque is more prone to laughter than fear – but again, depending on the purpose of an artwork, the intended audience, et cetera.
It is so very complex.
Style-wise, the grotesque evolves and changes a lot from early medieval times, to when it starts to bridge into the Renaissance. In the early Middle Ages, the style appears much more naive and child-like – at least from out point of view. It does take further studies to understand more, and that’s when the whole idea of the grotesque expands and becomes much more interesting. It includes a completely different view of the world, which is very foreign to us, today.
The literature I’ve begun to read is giving me all sorts of directions to explore. It is very confusing, yet extremely interesting. 😀
But it also enforces my idea of perspective as a thing, rather than truth. There is no one single truth about anything, really.
And perspecetive is knowledge, extending into understanding.
I find that the grotesque… well, like any other art style, mirrors the time it was produced in – but to me, in this very moment, I feel like the grotesque is an even clearer mirror than other art forms. Or, at least, in a very different way.
After all, the grotesque does challenge the norms of the society where it’s produced. And this is also why it is so interesting to follow the grotesquerie over time. Where did it start? Where did it go? How did it evolve? How does it follow, challenge or meet other parts of society in a specific time?
I think that my interest in the medieval and the Edwardian/Victorian grotesqueri is due to the fact the latter somewhat mirrors the previous. There are similarities, yet enormous differences, thus very interesting to look at, to read and theorize about.
Presently, I am reading a few books, writing articles for a member magazine in that Middle Ages society I joined couple of months ago. While doing that, I am working on finding points of entry suitable for this blog.
So – no worries. I am working on piercing the top layers of the medieval grotesque, so we can find a way in and see what the medieval society could have looked like.