What is ugly? One of the leading cultural commentators of our time, Stephen Bayley, takes us on a journey of discovery by skillfully weaving centuries of art and design history into a discourse on the nature of beauty and its polar opposite, ugly.
Is ugliness only skin-deep, or can something that is beautifully engineered - a B-52 bomber or a Colt .45 - also be ugly, if its function is to kill or to maim? What was 'Degenerate Art' and why was it deemed such? Why are mountains seen as sublime expressions of nature, when only two hundred years ago they were regarded as loathsome things to be avoided at all costs? Just what is the relation between tattoos and crime, and why on earth is there a contest for 'The Ugliest Dog in the World'? And lastly, if there was no ugly in the world, would there be any beauty?