In this article Frances Connelly describes how the grotesque appeared in art and where its influences came from. Arriving during the late 18th and 19th centuries, the grotesque arrived along with the romantic period, as it transitioned into mainstream modern expression. Connelly states how the grotesque gave expression to other primal realities, and how a striking number of the periods most influential thinkers such as Ruskin, Nielzche, Freud and other have drawn from and reinterpreted the grotesque tradition.
The term grotesque first appeared in the middle 16th century to describe a the kind of fantastical figures that decorated a Roman Villa. Connelly claims that the Grotesque is the “heart of contemporary debates” and integral to the visual arts of the 19th and 20th centuries. The style of grotesque focuses on darker, visual representations and can vary from dissembled body parts, to abstract representations of the unconscious. There are also different types of grotesque, the ornamental, the carnivalesque and the emblematic. A key feature that is usually depicted in grotesque art are the kinds of metamorphic traits the artists choses to focus on. Otto Dix’s war portfolio and Goya’s desserts de la Guerra both depict a kind of disembodiment as well as a general suffering and trauma. Both portray Grotesque style and reflect PTSD symptoms from war.