Carnival chariot, detail, end of 17th century, Lodovico Ottavio Burnacini (1636-1707)

Grotesque Comedy

Lodovico Ottavio Burnacini

8 October 2020 until 12 April 2021

First and foremost one artist enthuses the Viennese theatre world in the 17th century: Lodovico Ottavio Burnacini (1636–1707), a theatre engineer in service at the imperial court. In his flamboyant grotesques and commedia dell’arte drawings he blends visions of hell with the vibrant colours of street scenes and carnival. Men appear as women, children as adults and dwarves as giants; meticulously he studies facial features and body poses in order to cartooning them. Burnacini’s keen interest is all about showing folly and turning reality upside down.

The Theatermuseum presents the triumph of fantasy of an exuberant creative and productive artist with precious drawings and objects from its own collections and international lenders.

The exhibition will be curated by Rudi Risatti and designed by Gerhard Veigel.

A diverse event programme will accompany the presentation.

Exhibition Trailer

Conference "Grotesque! Monstrous Arts and their Return"

8-9 October 2020

The exhibition and the rediscovery of this master's exquisite and iconographic drawings are taken as an opportunity to stimulate a multidisciplinary discussion on the topic of the 'grotesque' and its historic and contemporary reception. The tree chapters of this international conference focus on the grotesque in the early modern period, grotesque practices in the arts and the 'grotesque' as a category of reflection.
The project is a cooperation between the Institute of Culture Studies and Theatre History, the Department for Theatre, Film and Media Studies and the Theatermuseum.

Information and Registration


The comprehensive and richly illustrated book Groteske Komödie - in den Zeichnungen von Lodovico Ottavio Burnacini (1636-1707) was published by Rudi Risatti in 2019. This iconographic study sheds a new light onto the work of this master in the collection of the Theatermuseum and shows its significance for an understanding of the feasts and the Italian Commedia dell'arte during the baroque period in Europe.

The publication (ed. Rudi Risatti, 354 pages, Hollitzer Wissenschaftsverlag, German only) is available at the Museum shop and online, € 40 (incl. VAT).


€ 40 (incl. MwSt.)
Available at the Museum's shop and online

Cooperation partner


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