Grotesque. A grotesque is a sculpted or molded ornament usually depicting a fanciful creature or distorted human. Grotesques are typically placed high on the exterior of buildings beneath the eave or at the top of columns, giving the impression that they are leering down at the humans below them. Not to be confused with gargoyles, which are part of the gutter system of a building and act as water spouts, grotesques are purely decorative.