Ellen Wetmore: A Capricious Catalogue of Grotesques
September 23, 2018 – January 13, 2019
Ellen Wetmore’s Grotesques—both her 2014 video and ongoing series of drawings on marbled paper—lyrically unite variable collections of subjects keenly observed. Bodies, monsters, characters from fairy tales, architectural facades, and historical artworks materialize as black outlines within swirls of color in her drawings. As Wetmore states, “the rules are that I must draw [in ink] the first thing I see.”
Wetmore’s A Capricious Catalogue of Grotesques is a contemporary reworking of the genre of grotesques, which flourished in Italy in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries after the rediscovery of first-century CE frescoes in Nero’s Domus Aurea (Golden House). Wetmore uses the grotesque as a schema of her fears, cultural values and observations. The decorative, marbled ground improbably folds into Wetmore’s surreal network of things to create open-ended narratives that reveal her ongoing interest in art history and the body.