Few days back, I saw some sculptures and paintings which were beautifully made. The characters which were depicted were ugly. When I inquired about the making of the sculptures and paintings, one of my friend told me that it is made using golden ratio (Now, I have to inquire about what is golden ratio). Those sculptures and paintings were beautifully made, but obviously they had ugly faces.

Is there any word which describes both ugly and beautiful at the same time?

This picture is not real sculptor or painting I saw, it is somewhat similar what I saw in fair. Example:

enter image description here

enter image description here

Now, I want to tell my mom that I saw beautiful but ugly troll sculptures and paintings.

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    I doubt it. I remember a question like this before, and as a starting point I wondered whether there was any word that encompassed opposites of anything, and the only thing I could come up with was "bittersweet". I have a feeling you'd need to use more than one word, but I'm probably wrong. Or you could do what the Germans do and just mash words together. – Zebrafish Jul 31 '18 at 2:17
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    @Kris thinking something is 'ugly' or 'beautiful' is relative in nature. For someone, it can be ugly, but for you it can be normal. For a mountaineers climbing a steep cliff is a beautiful experience, but for me it is a terrible idea. Also, this question is not duplicate questions of the one you pointed out. There is a difference between 'ugly' and 'terrible'. – Ubi hatt Jul 31 '18 at 7:09
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    "'Tis not a Lip, or Eye, we Beauty call, / But the joint Force and Full result of all." -- Alexander Pope – JEL Jul 31 '18 at 7:45
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    Please include attribution (name of the source) for images used as examples. – Kris Jul 31 '18 at 11:04
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    I know this is "English Language" but the English language does not have a term for those two things combined, however, French does with "Jolie laide" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jolie_laide – Mark Kirby Jul 31 '18 at 23:18

A beautiful caricature may be rendered in a grotesque style in an aesthetically appealing way.

enter image description here - enter image description here - enter image description here

Gnomes as sculptures are purposely created that way, so they are adorably abnormal.

What the OP has mentioned in the comment, trolls:
enter image description here
As mentioned, these trolls as "abnormal" (for a shock-and-thrill effect?), not ugly.

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    My answer is not about Trolls alone. I have use Troll as an example to describe something which is both beautiful and ugly. I already received nice answer. Also, it is not about image but about the sculptor which I happen to see few days back. Beautiful caricature??? I am not talking about cartoons here. Anyways, thanks for your effort and explanations. Thanks for uploading fugly pictures :) and please don't down vote my question as I have not accepted your answer. – Robin G Jul 31 '18 at 8:14
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    Kris can I ask you something? Why your answer receive upvote, if your answer is not related at all to the questions I have asked? How can that be?? – Robin G Jul 31 '18 at 9:42
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    @Kris Caricature is the part of Cartooning. "A cartoon is a simplified illustration that has a quick, whimsical style to it. Anything can be drawn as a cartoon whether it’s a person, animal or scenery. A caricature is specifically an illustration of a person drawn in an exaggerated style to play up their distinctive features. " – Robin G Jul 31 '18 at 11:01
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    @RobinBhatta please don't cross your line and start speculating. Everyone is trying to help you. In fact, I was the one who actually up voted Kris's answer. Everyone here is volunteering to help. I wish you delete your comments here. – Ubi hatt Jul 31 '18 at 11:06
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    It is not discussion, it is a request to OP to delete unwanted comments. – Ubi hatt Jul 31 '18 at 11:12

Are you perhaps looking instead for a word to describe your response to the artwork, which is where the perception of beauty or ugliness in fact lies? And perhaps in that case a word that might help would be 'ambivalence' where you are pulled in two directions at once, feeling two contrasting feelings or thoughts. Or even literally, con-fusion.

  • If the answer is ambivalence please put that first; don't ask a question. But I'm not certain that ambivalence could be used in a sentence "I saw some ... pictures today that I really think you should see and avoid!" – Andrew Leach Jul 31 '18 at 16:45
  • I am suggesting you are trying to render flat an experience that the specific point of, which the artist was making explicit and expressed was that of two incongruous feelings. To find one word would be to unexperience what you say you wish to convey. – Cypress Butane Jul 31 '18 at 23:10

A fitting word could be "grotesque." According to Wikipedia: "Since at least the 18th century (in French and German as well as English), grotesque (or grottoesque) has come to be used as a general adjective for the strange, mysterious, magnificent, fantastic, hideous, ugly, incongruous, unpleasant, or disgusting, and thus is often used to describe weird shapes and distorted forms such as Halloween masks" Grotesque.

  • But where is the element of beauty in the word Grotesque? It is about funny (comical) and ugly. – Ubi hatt Jul 31 '18 at 4:14
  • That may have been its origin, but I doubt anybody today would use grotesque to describe something as anything other than ugly. – Jason Bassford Jul 31 '18 at 4:17
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    The term is less about something being funny or comical, and more about something being distorted to achieve a particular effect. While trying to describe the trolls that we were presented as beautiful and ugly somewhat captures the experience of seeing the trolls, it fails to capture the intention behind the creation of the trolls, which is to present something as distorted to create an effect. The term "grotesque" acknowledges this intent in a way that does not demean the work for this intention, but rather applauds it for having achieved it. – Nikolas Radulovich Jul 31 '18 at 4:18
  • @NikolasRadulovich I can not describe grotesque for something ugly and beautiful. I agree more with other answer. – Robin G Jul 31 '18 at 5:35
  • @NikolasRadulovich please read my comment again. I have clearly wrote "funny and ugly" [it is not funny or comical]. Etymologically 'grotesque' is clownishly absurd. – Ubi hatt Jul 31 '18 at 5:42

I doubt there is a word to describe something by two specific antonyms - that's because i doubt the sentiment exist, and thus does not need to be described. Something can have beautiful aspects, and ugly aspects, it's ugliness/beauty being iridiscent in a way, or an object might appear ugly and then again beautiful in fast succeasion, be scintillating in its beauty. Something may induce admiration and fear at the same time, thus being awesome (in its original sense). You could focus on the alienness of the features by describing its beauty as monstrous, obscene, macabre, incongruous, perverted, twisted.

Last resort would be to just transport the impossibilty of the clash of impressions: The troll was phantasmagorical, or dream-like.

  • thank you for your reply :) I don't have enough point to up vote right now. – Robin G Jul 31 '18 at 5:59

The first thought that strike me when I read your question was Picasso. I always had this feeling, that Picasso's art were both ugly and beautiful.

Some of the Pablo Picasso's art work which I consider as both ugly and beautiful are Woman with Mustard Pot (1910), Femme assise (1909), or Old Woman (1901) are few examples.

enter image description here

I suspect that there is any single bewildering antinomy term which describes the paradoxical idea of something being both ugly and beautiful at the same time.

But we can give a try!

Merriam Webster defines cosmeticize as:

to make (something unpleasant or ugly) superficially attractive

The other word is ugly-duckling. It doesn't precisely talk about being ugly and beautiful at the same time.

Merriam Webster defines ugly duckling

one that appears very unpromising but often has great potential

The other English phrase that we can use is 'aesthetically ugly'. It accommodates both ugly and beautiful at the same time.

You can also read newspaper article on Ugly is the new beautiful: From aesthetic monstrosity to design masterpiece. The second picture in this article is of toy troll.

Excerpt from the news article:

His book Ugly explores the complexities of ugliness and makes the point that without ugliness, there would be no beauty. He has cherry-picked items for his book, including kitsch flying ducks, hideous pink-haired troll dolls – even the postmodernist architecture of the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery gets singled out. Ugliness is fascinating, he claims – take the repugnant The Ugly Duchess by Quentin Massys – "It's one of the most popular postcards sold in London's National Gallery shop and rivals the sales of Monet's tranquil Water-Lilies," he says.

Secondly, if you want to describe something as beautiful and terrible at the same time then you can read this questions and my answer.

You can read more about golden ratio on wiki article. It certainly talks about aesthetics.

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    Thank you so much for your wonderful reply. I liked the example and phrase you gave. – Robin G Jul 31 '18 at 5:34
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    In summary, you seem to suggest the phrase "aesthetically ugly." However, it just implies "ugly in an aesthetic sense," i.e., "as far as aesthetics are concerned, it ranks as ugly," or "in the scale of aesthetics, it occupies the position at the absolute bottom, that is, Ugly." So that cannot be the answer. – Kris Jul 31 '18 at 6:44
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    "I always use it to describe the Picasso's art work." I would suggest you better not, for being necessarily misunderstood. :D – Kris Jul 31 '18 at 6:45
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    @Kris that can be your opinion. How you thought of ranking in terms of aesthetics is unknown. – Ubi hatt Jul 31 '18 at 6:45
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    @Kris with respect to above comment. I would like to add, that when you do not have a single word to describe the essence of both qualities (here, ugly and beauty) then certainly you can use compound words closest to the meaning of required sense. – Ubi hatt Jul 31 '18 at 6:53

I'd vouch for "bizarre" even though the meaning is more in line of "defies characterization" rather than "is both beautiful and ugly". But the alternative "grotesque" is quite more negatively connotated.

Dictionary definitions would be somewhat similar and they are partly listed as synonymous but I do feel that there is a meaningful difference.

  • Where's the idea of "beauty" inherent in bizarre? Please cite your sources, else this will be a comment, not an answer. – Kris Jul 31 '18 at 10:11

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