Maddening Sculpture and the Writing of Art History
Author: Michael Elia Yonan
Category: Facial expression in art
This book examines a famous series of sculptures by the German artist Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736-1783) known as his "Character Heads." These are busts of human heads, highly unconventional for their time, representing strange, often inexplicable facial expressions. Scholars have struggled to explain these works of art. Some have said that Messerschmidt was insane, while others suggested that he tried to illustrate some sort of intellectual system. Michael Yonan argues that these sculptures are simultaneously explorations of art's power and also critiques of the aesthetic limits that would be placed on that power.
Maddening Sculpture and the Writing of Art History
Author: Michael Yonan
This book examines a famous series of sculptures by the German artist Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736–1783) known as his "Character Heads." These are busts of human heads, highly unconventional for their time, representing strange, often inexplicable facial expressions. Scholars have struggled to explain these works of art. Some have said that Messerschmidt was insane, while others suggested that he tried to illustrate some sort of intellectual system. Michael Yonan argues that these sculptures are simultaneously explorations of art’s power and also critiques of the aesthetic limits that would be placed on that power.
Katalog zur Ausstellung im Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Frankfurt am Main, 15. November 2006 bis 11. März 2007
Author: Franz Xaver Messerschmidt
Publisher: Hirmer Verlag
Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736-1783) is one of the most fascinating sculptors of the Enlightenment. His portraits - of members of the Imperial household as well as eminent philosophers and scholars - show how far he surpassed traditional portrait styles. German text. Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736-1783) ist bis heute einer der faszinierendsten Bildhauer der Aufklarung. Selbst wer mit dem Namen des Kunstlers nichts verbindet, ist doch seinen beruhmtesten Werken schon einmal begegnet: den Charakterkopfen. Fur seine fruhesten Werke, im wesentlichen Portrats des Kaiserhauses, erfuhr Messerschmidt allerhochste Zustimmung. Auch bedeutende Aufklarer und Gelehrte liessen sich von ihm portratieren. Mit diesen Portrats sagte er sich von der traditionellen Portratform los.
'Franz Xaver Messerschidt' is the first exhibition in the USA devoted to this major late 18th-century Austro-Bavarian sculptor. It will focus on the artist's so-called "character heads". Working in a neo-classical vein, Messerschmidt made his mark at first in Vienna, where he met success and had several imperial commissions. He presented the individual features of his models in a way "true to nature", in keeping with their age and without idealising them. Around 1770, there was a rupture in Messerschmidt's life. The artist was thought to have psychological problems, lost his position at the university, and returned to Wiesensteig, his native Bavarian town. Messerschmidt devoted himself to the creation of his "character heads", the body of work for which he would become famous. To produce these works, the artist would look into the mirror, pinching his body and making faces. He then rendered, with great precision, his distorted face. Messerschmidt is known to have produced 49 of these astonishing works before he died in 1783. Messerschmidt can be seen in relation to artists such as William Blake and Francisco Goya for his explorations of the dark side of the human soul. His "character heads", in particular, are masterly works of sculpture, whose expressive intensity anticipates later developments in art.
An astonishing group of sixty-nine “Character Heads” by German sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736–1783) has fascinated viewers, artists, and collectors for more than two centuries. The heads, carved in alabaster or cast in lead or tin alloy, were conceived outside the norm of conventional portrait sculpture and explore the furthest limits of human expression. Since their first exposure to the public in 1793, artists, including Egon Schiele (1890–1918), Francis Bacon (1909–1992), Arnulf Rainer (born 1929), and, more recently, Tony Cragg (born 1949) and Tony Bevan (born 1951), have responded to their overwhelming visual power. Lavishly illustrated, Messerschmidt and Modernity presents remarkable works created by and inspired by Messerschmidt, an artist both of and ahead of his time. The Character Heads situate the artist’s work squarely within the eighteenth-century European Enlightenment, with its focus on expression and emotion. Yet their uncompromising style stands in sharp contrast to the florid Baroque style of Messerschmidt’s earlier sculptures for the court of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. With their strict frontality and narrow silhouettes, the Character Heads appear to contemporary eyes as having been conceived in a “modern” aesthetic. Their position at the apparent limits of rational art have made them compelling to successive generations of artists working in a variety of media.
Using the famous, bizarre Character Heads of Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736-83) as its basis, this book considers contemporary uses of facial affect in videos by Douglas Gordon, Bruce Nauman and Tony Oursler, and photographs by Arnulf Rainer, who engaged directly with Messerschmidt's heads.
"This second edition of Historical Dictionary of Neoclassical Art and Architecture contains a chronology, an introduction, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 300 cross-referenced entries"--
What is “character”? Since at least Aristotle’s time, philosophers, theologians, moralists, artists, and scientists have pondered the enigma of human character. In its oldest usage, “character” derives from a word for engraving or stamping, yet over time, it has come to mean a moral idea, a type, a literary persona, and a physical or physiological manifestation observable in works of art and scientific experiments. It is an essential term in drama and the focus of self-help books. In Character: The History of a Cultural Obsession, Marjorie Garber points out that character seems more relevant than ever today, omnipresent in discussions of politics, ethics, gender, morality, and the psyche. References to character flaws, character issues, and character assassination and allegations of “bad” and “good” character are inescapable in the media and in contemporary political debates. What connection does “character” in this moral or ethical sense have with the concept of a character in a novel or a play? Do our notions about fictional characters catalyze our ideas about moral character? Can character be “formed” or taught in schools, in scouting, in the home? From Plutarch to John Stuart Mill, from Shakespeare to Darwin, from Theophrastus to Freud, from nineteenth-century phrenology to twenty-first-century brain scans, the search for the sources and components of human character still preoccupies us. Today, with the meaning and the value of this term in question, no issue is more important, and no topic more vital, surprising, and fascinating. With her distinctive verve, humor, and vast erudition, Marjorie Garber explores the stakes of these conflations, confusions, and heritages, from ancient Greece to the present day.
The current concept of dystonic movement connects the abnormal function of somatosensory pathways and somatosensory analyzers with the dystonic performance of motor action, which is based on the abnormality of sensorimotor integration. This concept is reflected not only in idiopathic dystonia, but also in secondary and symptomatic dystonias. This book will give a comprehensive account of the history of the terms dystonia and dystonic, the physiology of dystonic movement and the genetics and clinical appearance of primary and secondary dystonias. Taking into consideration latest research findings, Dystonia and Dystonic Syndromes offers an in-depth discussion of current treatment options available for dystonia, including pharmacotherapy, surgery and neurorehabilitation. Therefore, it serves as a valuable reference for practitioners in the fields of neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry and neuroradiology as well as for neuroscientists.
A beautiful book that showcases how circus figures and artifacts have been portrayed in art over the past two centuries The circus is a dazzling world filled with acrobats and harlequins, tumblers and riders, monsters and celestial creatures. Now this engaging book sets that world in a new light, examining how painters, sculptors, and photographers from the eighteenth century to the present have used the circus as a springboard for their imaginative expression and have envisioned the clown as a metaphor for the modern artist. The book presents more than 175 works by such artists as Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rouault, Picasso, Chagall, and Léger. Some of these are masterful works shown for the first time; these range from the 18-meter stage curtain Picasso designed in 1917 for Erik Satie's ballet Parade to more intimate works such as Nadar and Tournachon's photographs of Pierrot as played by celebrated mime Charles Debureau.
Smirking, dim-witted, grimacing, or disgusted--that is how the character studies that Franz Xaver Messerschmidt cast in lead or cut into alabaster appear to viewers. They are sculptures that do not adhere to any classical ideal of beauty, instead confronting the viewer with a typology of the ugly. The fascinating character busts by the baroque sculptor Messerschmidt may be indebted to his contemporary Johann Kaspar Lavater, yet they never cease to amaze with their untimely artistic aggressiveness--their modernism even--exposing the flip sides of human expression. Messerschmidt, who created conventional portraits of dignitaries such as Empress Maria Theresia and Joseph II while working at the Imperial Academy in Vienna, began his turn toward an exclusive production of character busts around 1770, a predilection that quickly gained him the reputation of a maverick. Having taken early retirement due to a psychological disorder that was never clearly defined, he spent the rest of his life as a recluse living in Pressburg. This extensive monograph about an exceptional artist attempts an interpretation of the deeper meaning in an oeuvre that is as unusual as it is uncompromising.
Edith Kramer is one of the pioneers in the field of art therapy, known and respected throughout the world. This collection of papers reflects her lifetime of work in this field, showing how her thoughts and practice have developed over the years. She considers a wide spectrum of issues, covering art, art therapy, society, ethology and clinical practice and placing art therapy in its social and historical context. Drawing on her very considerable personal experience as an art therapist, Kramer illustrates her conviction that art making is central to practice and cautions against making words primary and art secondary in art therapy. Art as Therapy offers a rare insight into the personal development of one of the world's leading art therapists and the development of art therapy as a profession. It will make fascinating reading for anyone interested in art therapy.
We live in an age of constant distraction. Is there a price to pay for this? In this superb essay, renowned critic Sebastian Smee explores the fate of the inner life in the age of the internet. Throughout history, artists and thinkers have cultivated the deep self, and seen value in solitude and reflection. But today, with social media, wall-to-wall marketing and the agitation of modern life, everything feels illuminated, made transparent. We feel bereft without our phones and their cameras and the feeling of instant connectivity. It gets hard to pick up a book, harder still to stay with it. Without nostalgia or pessimism, Sebastian Smee evokes what is valuable and worth cultivating: he guides us from the apparent fullness of the app-filled world towards a more complex sense of self, and the inner life. If we lose this, Smee asks, what do we lose of ourselves? “Every day I spend hours and hours on my phone ... We are all doing it, aren’t we? It has come to feel completely normal. Even when I put my device aside and attach it to a charger, it pulses away in my mind, like the throat of a toad, full of blind, amphibian appetite.”––Sebastian Smee, Net Loss
The New Criterion, now co-edited by the art critic Hilton Kramer and Roger Kimball, was founded in 1982 by Mr. Kramer and the pianist and music critic Samuel Lipman. A monthly review of the arts and intellectual life, The New Criterion began as an experiment in critical audacity-a publication devoted to engaging, in Matthew Arnold's famous phrase, with the best that has been thought and said. This also meant engaging with those forces dedicated to traducing genuine cultural and intellectual achievement, whether through obfuscation, politicization, or a commitment to nihilistic absurdity. We are proud that The New Criterion has been in the forefront both of championing what is best and most humanely vital in our cultural inheritance and in exposing what is mendacious, corrosive, and spurious. Published monthly from September through June, The New Criterion brings together a wide range of young and established critics whose common aim is to bring you the most incisive criticism being written today.