Hanna Jaeun, The Sacrifice, 2014, acrylic on wood panel, 30 x 24 x 2.25 in. Courtesy of Hieronymus Objects, www.HieronymusObjects.com
Ronit Baranga, Embraced #1, 2016, ceramic, 6 x 8 x 5 inches, Courtesy of Hieronymus Objects, www.HieronymusObjects.com
Tomiyuki Sakuta, Dodog, 2013, intaglio, 6 x 4 in., 13 x 10 in. framed, Courtesy of Hieronymus Objects, www.HieronymusObjects.com
Ben Blatt, Guerra, 2003, watercolor, 21 ½ x 25 ½ in. framed, Courtesy of Hieronymus Objects, www.HieronymusObjects.com
Mirka Lugosi, Untitled, 2001-2006, gouache on paper, 16 ½ x 12 ½ in. framed, Courtesy of Hieronymus Objects, www.HieronymusObjects.com
Renee Audette, Girls Poop Cupcakes, 2008, ceramics, 9.5 x 15 x 16 in., Courtesy of Hieronymus Objects, www.HieronymusObjects.com
Jim Woodring, Push Me Pull Me, 2005, charcoal on paper, 23 x 19 in. framed, Courtesy of Hieronymus Objects, www.HieronymusObjects.com
Laurie Hogin, Wellbutrin, 2004, oil on panel, 7.5 x 7.5 in. Courtesy of Hieronymus Objects, www.HieronymusObjects.com
The bodies depicted in Gross Anatomies dissipate, morph and decompose. They may have piecemeal forms, assembled from disparate parts. They openly engage in bodily functions like defecating, giving birth or dying, universal acts essential to human existence that usually take place in private. The creatures’ grotesque bodies may make us laugh or recoil in disgust. They can confuse us, appearing as two opposite-seeming things at the same time, such as cute and creepy or ugly yet beautiful.
The sculptures, drawings, prints and paintings on display in this exhibition feature grotesque representations of the human form. Drawn entirely from an Akron-based private collection, the artworks in Gross Anatomies transgress social norms, amuse, titillate and befuddle us, and in some cases, gross us out.
In today’s parlance, “grotesque” describes things that are hideous or garish, but its dictionary definition is more nuanced: “of or unnatural in shape, appearance or character; fantastically ugly or absurd; bizarre.” Another meaning, “fantastic in the shaping and combination of forms, as in decorative work combining incongruous human and animal figures with scrolls and foliage,” has its historical root in the term Renaissance-era Italians applied to the imaginary figures featured in the decorative elements of unearthed Roman ruins: grottesca, meaning cave painting. This word evolved into grotesque, which encompasses all things hideous, fantastical and unnatural. Many of the bodies in Gross Anatomies exist in that same borderline category as the ancient Roman figures, comingling flora with male or female forms. These creatures are never fully human, and perhaps part animal, plant or machine.
Due to their in-between, misfit nature, grotesque images have a subversive power that threatens to overturn social conventions. Their strange, and often humorous, forms present opportunities for typically hidden or taboo subjects to surface, and suggest alternate realities where power structures have been toppled. Contemporary artists turn to grotesque themes to address issues related to inequity by creating parallel worlds in which hierarchies are dismantled and the downtrodden gain control. The works on display in Gross Anatomies depict bodies behaving outside accepted conventions of etiquette and science in ways that both disgust and delight.
Gross Anatomies is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by funding from the Ohio Arts Council.
Related Links:[ Akron Art Museum presents the weird, incongruous and grotesque with Gross Anatomies, ArtDaily ]
Kids Studio: Fantasy Creatures Fit For Print
Scratch out one-of-a-kind illustrations for your own creature manual using woodblock, linoleum and styrofoam printing surfaces.
Kids Studio: Fantasy Creatures Fit For Print
Recommended for ages 7 - 12
Fantasy Creatures Fit For Print
Check out unique beings (some human, some not) in the show Gross Anatomies, then create a creature manual for living on Earth. Scratch out one-of-a-kind illustrations for your handbook using woodblock, linoleum and styrofoam printing surfaces.
Welcome to our studio—where students gain a fresh perspective in thinking creatively. Learn how to work like a professional artist by exploring unique materials, experimental processes and extraordinary works of art, while building skills and confidence along the way.
$10/members, $15/non-member child. Register online by clicking the button / link below, or call 330.376.9186.
Help support programs for children and families. Click here to become a member of the Akron Art Museum.
Kids Studio Classes are made possible with support from the Charles E. and Mabel M. Ritchie Foundation.