Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hyman, Timothy. Carnivalesque.

Hyman, Timothy. Carnivalesque. London: Hayward Gallery Publishing, 2000.

A historical account of the carnivalesque in art, mostly more concerned with the grotesque than the humourous per se. Addresses the historical role of the carnival, and its relation to art through a series of painters from the 16th century to the present day. Mostly concerned with carnivalesque themes such as crowds, masks, bodies and inversion. Lots of pictures of genetalia interpreted through Bahktin with a predominantly formal concern, though many of the paintings are argued to convey political messages (though not have political effects as it were).

A companion essay by Roger Malbert is more scpetical as regards the political function of the carnival in his treatment of contemporary art. Argues that the carnival loses something of its essence when it passes from lived exprience to text, but that it also gains the ability to capture the fleeting and thereby confront the viewer with the world. Anthony Howell and Paul McCarthy are perhaps the most interesting examples.

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