“Fantasy deserted by reason produces impossible monsters: united with it, fantasy is the mother of the arts and the source of their wonders.” – Goya
Fantastic creatures such as satyrs, demons, witches and monsters have featured in artistic imagery throughout the centuries. They have been used to give expression to religious beliefs, cultural anxieties, literary subjects or psychological insights and have provided fertile ground for artists’ imaginings. Central to many artists’ visualisations of these creatures has been the grotesque body. Characterised by the unnatural combination of body parts (human, bestial and other) or by the distortion of form, the grotesque body has featured in Christian imagery of the Devil and of Hell, in Romantic explorations of the irrational, in Symbolist divinations of man’s inner world, and in twentieth-century visualisations of the alienated human condition. This exhibition draws upon the National Gallery of Victoria’s rich collection of prints, drawings and illustrated books to explore the ways in which European artists have given expression to the monstrous, the diabolical and the fantastic from the fifteenth century through to the twenty-first century.
Artists in the exhibition include: Albrecht Dürer, Andrea Mantegna, Francisco Goya, William Blake, Eugène Delacroix, Pablo Picasso, Peter Booth and Jake and Dinos Chapman.