On Ugliness, Edited by Umberto Eco

 

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The Independent Culture

Though sales of this anthology of the repellent and weird are unlikely to match those of Eco's On Beauty, published two years ago, this is by far the more interesting.

His journey through the distorting mirror begins with Death and Martyrdom (a strong showing from Alsace with Grünewald's flayed Christ and a deceased couple populated by worms and toads) via the Comic and Obscene (a medieval Frenchman does the pull-down-eyes-and-mouth face) to Ugliness Today, dominated by Maurizio Cattelan's notably unpleasant sculpture Hanged Children, a centrepiece of his current retrospective at the New York Guggenheim.

Though accompanying verbal snippets fight a losing battle with the images, this book is full of amazements.

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