(Francisco Goya, ‘Against the Common Good’, 1820-23)
Otto Dix, ‘Front-Line Soldier in Brussels’, Published 1924
Connelly’s introduction defines the grotesque as an artist’s liberty and ability to purposefully break the boundary of beauty, convention, or expectations in relation to western ideals. Both Goya and Dix’s plates possess attributes of the carnivalesque and caricature. Connelly states the carnivalesque exposes “parts and processes by which the body takes in or spews out the world alien to it, all those parts and processes that are suppressed by social codes of behavior” (p. 8) . Interpreting this quote could reveal the grotesque’s ability to ascetically spew out the world alien to it, literally centering around the bodies picture, or through allegory release suppressed social codes. For instance, Goya’s plate literally features a foreign creature of the Horatian type. However, his monks clothing, literacy, and title of the piece publicize a negative commentary towards the ruling church. This artistic act could be construed as an alien social code of behavior. Dix’s plate relates to Connelly’s comment on Mona Hatoum’s work. “The strangeness and grotesqueness of this imagery undercuts all expectations of aesthetic pleasure we attach to viewing the feminine body” (p. 15). Brothel scenes in themselves are products of the grotesque, transgressing social norms. The scene also tells an allegory of a deprived soldier, inserting sad comic relief through crude feminine ascetics. In conclusion both plates do more than just defy the western cannon of beauty, they tell cruel truths of the human condition only accepted through artistic liberty and satire.