The exhibition “Grotesque!” focuses on 20th-century art rooted in the tradition of the grotesquely comical. The grotesque is characterized by its relationship to boundaries: it transcends them, bursts them open, undermines them. The grotesque has been accepted as a literary and dramatic genre for quite some time. The show examines its role within the fine arts of the German-speaking countries for the first time. The presentation opens with paintings by Arnold Böcklin which inspired artists such as Lovis Corinth, Paul Klee, Max Klinger, Alfred Kubin, and Emil Nolde.

“Grotesque!” also explores the relationship between the rise of the cabaret and fine arts in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland – an issue which has been hardly taken into account so far. The subjects the exhibition centers on range from Karl Valentin’s grotesquely comic aesthetics and Dada to the Wiener Gruppe and contemporary positions such as those of Sigmar Polke, Thomas Schütte, and John Bock.


Edited by Pamela Kort. With a preface by Max Hollein and Chris Dercon and essays by Hanne Bergius, Ralf Burmeister, Frances Connelly, Lisbeth Exner, Harald Falckenberg, Michael Farin, Peter Jelavich, Pamela Kort, and Gregor Wedekind. German, c. 304 pages, c. 170 color illustrations, Prestel Verlag, Munich, Berlin, London, New York, ISBN 3-7913-2887-5 (hardcover trade edition), ISBN 3-7913-6004-3 (Schirn).