Character Heads
April 3, 2003 6:15 AM   Subscribe

Character Heads (Die Charakterköpfe, the first link is in German) - the remarkable late work of eccentric/mad 18th century Austrian sculptor Franz Xavier Messerschmidt.
posted by misteraitch (10 comments total)
Oh My Stars-N-Garters this is Brilliant! Thanks!
posted by Shane at 6:29 AM on April 3, 2003

That first link has some of the finest artistic representations of constipation that I have ever seen.
posted by jamespake at 6:44 AM on April 3, 2003

[Messerschmidt] completed portrait reliefs of Emperor Joseph II and his wife...each of which clearly indicates a tendency to heightened individuality.

I wonder if they looked as if they were sucking on lemons too?

But in 1770 he apparently suffered a severe psychic crisis and consequently in 1774 he was not given the hoped-for professorship at the Academy. After this insult he left Vienna and joined his brother in Pressburg (now Bratislava), where, regarded as a crank, he worked on his "character heads" until his death.

Ya gotta love an eccentric genius! Brilliant sculptor, IMO.
posted by Shane at 7:20 AM on April 3, 2003

Franz Xavier Messerschmidt.
His name is my name too, three, four, five.
posted by basilwhite at 7:30 AM on April 3, 2003

whenever we go out
posted by basilwhite at 7:30 AM on April 3, 2003

these are awesome, thanks!

i can't believe people made these faces over 200 years ago!
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 9:13 AM on April 3, 2003

The man still gets no respect - I saw one of these in the Österreichische Galerie in Vienna, and it was located just outside the bathroom. It was my second favorite piece in the whole museum. (Gustav Klimt's Judith was first...)
posted by letitrain at 9:21 AM on April 3, 2003

Thank you misteraitch - this is the perfect way to start my morning!
posted by snez at 9:56 AM on April 3, 2003

very cool misteraitch - thanks!
posted by madamjujujive at 8:43 PM on April 3, 2003

The ever-handy Clive Barker's A-Z of Horror had a good entry on Messerschmidt. His friend, artist Freidrick Nicolai, wrote about a visit to the artist's studio:

[He] believed evil demons came to him at night to persecute him. 'But eventually I realized that the spirit of proportion envies me for coming so near to perfection in my work,' explained the artist. 'So the spirit causes me physical pain.'

To ward off these demonic spirits, he devised a system of pinches carefully combined with certain facial contortions. He would pull faces in front of his mirror and deemed himself witness to themost amazing effects of his power over the spirits.

'I decided to fix these grimacing proportions permanently,' said Messerschmidt, 'an army of magical heads to protect me from the spirits.'

But in the corner of the room stood a rather different head; its form utterly curious and misproportioned; the face drawn almost into the shape of a beak.

'And the demon pinched me that time,' revealed the afflicated artist. 'I tell you, it nearly did for me. Luckily, it let off a sudden hellish fart and disappeared in the midst of a dreadful stench. Or it would surely have been the death of me...'
posted by luminol at 8:10 PM on April 4, 2003

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