Messerschmidt's Character Heads : Maddening Sculpture and the Writing of Art History book cover
1st Edition

Messerschmidt's Character Heads
Maddening Sculpture and the Writing of Art History





ISBN 9781032096308
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
206 Pages 35 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.



Table of Contents

Table of Contents





Introduction





Part I: Writing the Artist’s Mind





Introduction to Part I





Chapter 1: Nicolai’s Dreamer





Chapter 2: Kris’s Psychotic





Part II: Writing the Artist’s Context





Introduction to Part II





Chaper 3: Mesmer’s Acolyte





Chapter 4: Lichtenberg’s Ally





Part III: Writing the Artist’s Project





Introduction to Part III





Chapter 5: The Game of Making





Chapter 6: The Envy of the Gods





Conclusion

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Author(s)

Biography

Michael Yonan is associate professor of art history at the University of Missouri–Columbia, USA. He is a specialist in eighteenth-century European art and material culture.