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Grotesques

hybrid medieval especially popular

Grotesques are peculiar, deformed, contorted, exaggerated, or hybrid forms that appear especially in medieval painting and sculpture. Found within and creating decorated initials in manuscripts of the Carolingian and Romanesque periods, they were especially popular as marginalia in Gothic manuscripts from the thirteenth century onward. Grotesques are also often found carved beneath wooden choir seats (misericords). They may be comic in appearance (drolleries) or disturbing monstrosities with demonic appearances. Sometimes silly, erotic, or scatological, grotesques may cavort, combat each other, or convey cynical pictorial comments on church or society. The combination of human and animal elements was common, as well as fantastic beasts combining parts of several different *animals. Saint *Bernard of Clairvaux complained about the distracting nature of these seemingly pointless forms in Romanesque sculpture, although some may have origins in or meanings derived from bestiaries or the popular medieval travel books de- Page 109  scribing the monstrous races or marvels of the world. Gargoyles (drainspouts) on the exteriors of cathedrals often have grotesque, dragonlike, or hybrid forms.
Grove, Andrew S. - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Social and Economic Impact, Chronology: Andrew S. Grove [next]

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