Back to All Events

The Vulgar and the Grotesque


In 1777 Mozart wrote a letter, a paragraph of which said the following: 

Wouldn't you like to visit Herr Gold-smith again?—but what for?—what?—nothing!—just to inquire, I guess, about the Spuni Cuni fait, nothing else, nothing else?—well, well, all right. Long live all those who, who—who—who—how does it go on?—I now wish you a good night, shit in your bed with all your might, sleep with peace on your mind, and try to kiss your own behind; I now go off to never-never land and sleep as much as I can stand. Tomorrow we'll speak freak sensubly with each other. Things I must you tell a lot of, believe it you hardly can, but hear tomorrow it already will you, be well in the meantime. Oh my ass burns like fire! what on earth is the meaning of this!—maybe muck wants to come out? yes, yes, muck, I know you, see you, taste you—and—what's this—is it possible? Ye Gods!—Oh ear of mine, are you deceiving me?—No, it's true—what a long and melancholic sound!—today is the write I fifth this letter. Yesterday I talked with the stern Frau Churfustin, and tomorrow, on the 6th, I will give a performance in her chambers, as the Furstin-Chur said to me herself. Now for something real sensuble!  Read the full letter here

How could such a genius, so sensitive to beauty be capable of writing something so crude? Does his vulgarity diminish from his art? Are we offended by his words or does his directness appeal to our modern ears? How has unrefined or vulgar taste influenced culture, fashion, music and the arts historically and how is it influencing our society now? In this salon we will question what makes something vulgar or grotesque. We will interrogate everything from the dangers associated with vulgarity to the potentially liberating dimensions of vulgar displays. In 2017 the Barbican had an exhibition called The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined. Prior to the salon you can view the images in this article for inspiration. 

Location upon RSVP

RSVP required to


*Please note: this salon may be filmed or photographed. By partaking in the salon you (and your guests if you bring them) are agreeing to the possibility of being filmed or photographed.

Image Attribution: Caravaggio [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Earlier Event: October 6
Perspectives in Psychotherapy
Later Event: December 15
Miracles & Inexplicable Phenomena