Franz Xaver Messerschmidt 1736-1783

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Texts by: Maraike Bückling, Renate Fanta, Magda Keleti, Michael Krapf, Almut Krapf-Weiler, Wolfgang Häusler Edited by: Michael Krapf German 2002, 312 Pages, 205 Ills. Clothbound 247mm x 225mm
ISBN: 978-3-7757-1245-3

Smirking, dim-witted, grimacing or disgusted - that is how the character studies cast in lead or cut into alabaster appear to viewers: sculptures that do not adhere to any classical ideal of beauty but confront the viewer with a typology of the ugly. The fascinating character heads by the baroque sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt may be indebted to his contemporary Johann Kaspar Lavater, yet, they never cease to amaze with their untimely artistic aggressiveness, modernism even, exposing the flip sides of human expression. Messerschmidt, who created conventional portraits of dignitaries such as Empress Maria Theresia or Joseph II while teaching at the Imperial Academy in Vienna, began to turn exclusively to character heads around 1770, a fact 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 in Pressburg. This extensive monograph about an exceptional artist attempts an interpretation of the "deeper meaning" of an oeuvre which is as unusual as it is uncompromising. (English edition available ISBN 3-7757-1246-1) The artist: Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (Wiesensteig 1736-1783 Preßburg), born as one of the numerous children in a dyer's family in the area Göppingen/Oberamt Geislingen, Württemberg. Move to Munich in 1746, subsequent apprenticeships with his uncles Johann Baptist Straub, wood sculptor at the Munich court, and Philipp Jakob Straub, sculptor in Graz. In 1755, studies in Vienna; from 1760 work for the imperial court, Vienna. Travels to Rome in 1765. From 1769, substitute professor for sculpture at the academy in Vienna. Moves to Preßburg in 1777. Exhibition Schedule: Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna October 10, 2002 - February 9, 2003