Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Original Grotesque


Before the middle ages, {or “Dark Ages”} the Greeks and subsequently the Romans had a pretty thriving culture, with art and temples and carved marble and things covered in gold, {Like the Catholics! More on that later} but then Christianity went mainstream {Thanks a lot, Constantine} and all this cool old stuff was “Lost” and destroyed because it was “Pagan”.

Fast forward to the Renaissance and Europe is rediscovering all this old stuff, like “Math” and the old stories, which were a lot more popular with artists because Nymphs and Goddesses of Beauty presented a lot more opportunities to carve naked women than the Madonna ever did.

One of the things they eventually rediscovered was Nero’s tomb.


Nero was an old roman emperor,  so of course he built himself a temple, or a castle, or it actually might have been his tomb the point is it was seriously ornate and had a serious water leakage problem. 
So during the dark ages it was forgotten, then when they rediscover it in the renaissance at first they thought it was just a grotto, because in the intervening hundreds of years the walls had become covered in stalagmites, stalactites, and bat guano.

When the renaissance explorer guys saw it they said “This is new, This is different!” They then copied it and declared it a style. 
Grotto–esque. 
Then they built this thing, a little ‘Copy’ of the grotto in back of the Pitti Palace, right next to the door you leave by when you take the Vasari Corridor Tour.


Michelangelo was kind of pretentious, he said on many occasions that he didn’t just Carve The Marble he ‘Removed all the bits of marble that weren’t the statue that was already inside.’ 
So sometimes when he was engaged to carve something he wouldn’t finish it because ‘Well, this bit of marble has a half–finished statue inside’
And so most of the time when he pulled that …excuse… they would stick the thing he had carved in here, because it fit in with the overall theme. 
Of course, now all those half–finished statues are lining the walkway to David and you can’t take a picture of them. But wikipedia has some pictures: [See Here]


Detail: I‘m not sure what’s going on with this guy, but he’s cool.


Detail: Two women, one balancing a vase on her head.


Detail: They even took the grotesque theme to the ceiling. 



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