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Beautiful Ugliness: Christianity, Modernity and the Arts

From the publisher:

Many great artworks include elements of ugliness: repugnant content, disproportionate forms, unresolved dissonance and unintegrated parts. Mark William Roche’s authoritative monograph Beautiful Ugliness: Christianity, Modernity and the Arts challenges current practices of the dominant aesthetic schools by exploring the role of ugliness in art and literature. Roche offers a comprehensive and unique framework that integrates philosophical and theological reflection, intellectual-historical analysis and interpretations of a large number of works from the arts. The study is driven by the recognition that, though ugliness is usually understood as the opposite of beauty, ugliness nonetheless contributes significantly to the beauty of many artworks.

Roche’s analysis unfolds in three parts. The first offers a refreshing conceptual analysis of ugliness in art. The second considers the history of ugliness in art and literature, with special attention to its role in Christian art and its central place in modern and contemporary art. The third synthesizes earlier material, offering a taxonomy of beautiful ugliness derived from Hegelian philosophical categories. Roche mesmerizes the reader with an extraordinary range of literary scholarship and expertise, with a particular focus on English, Latin and German literature, and with a broad range of analyzed phenomena, including fine arts, architecture and music.

Including 63 color illustrations, Beautiful Ugliness will draw in readers from multiple disciplines as well as those from beyond the academy who wish to make sense of today’s complex art world.