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Grotesque Visions: The Science of Berlin Dada

Grotesque Visions: The Science of Berlin Dada

Grotesque Visions: The Science of Berlin Dada

By Thomas O. Haakenson

Grotesque Visions: The Science of Berlin Dada is a much-needed contribution to the history and theory of the grotesque. Calling attention to historically specific ideas about the human body in early twentieth-century Germany, Thomas O. Haakenson not only describes the genesis of the grotesque at this particular time and place, he demonstrates its critical potential to intervene in the era's often misguided scientific activities. As science and anthropology increasingly implemented visual images to validate research and serve as legitimate evidence, the Dada grotesque-as Haakenson convincingly argues-pointedly questioned the importance of vision as constitutive of knowledge.” ―Maria Makela, Professor Emerita of Visual Studies, California College of the Arts, USA

Grotesque Visions focuses on the radical avant-garde interventions of Salomo Friedländer (aka Mynona), Til Brugman, and Hannah Höch as they challenged the questionable practices and evidentiary claims of late-19th- and early-20th-century science. Demonstrating the often excessive measures that pathologists, anthropologists, sexologists, and medical professionals went to present their research in a seemingly unambiguous way, this volume shows how Friedländer/Mynona, Brugman, Höch, and other Berlin-based artists used the artistic grotesque to criticize, satirize, and subvert a variety of forms of supposed scientific objectivity.

The volume concludes by examining the exhibition Grotesk!: 130 Jahre Kunst der Frechheit/Comic Grotesque: Wit and Mockery in German Arts, 1870-1940. In contrast to the ahistorical and amorphous concept informing the exhibition, Thomas O. Haakenson reveals a unique deployment of the artistic grotesque that targeted specific established and emerging scientific discourses at the turn of the last fin-de-siècle.

Paperback
272 pages
Bloomsbury Academic, 2022 
5.5 x 0.57 x 8.5 inches
ISBN 9781501369940
Dada, Avant-Garde

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