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

Grotesque Comedy

Lodovico Ottavio Burnacini

8 October 2020 until 2 August 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.

The exhibition was accompanied by a diverse supporting programme and an international conference titled Grotesque! Outrageous Arts and Their Return.

Exhibition Trailer



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

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