Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736-1783), 2010

From Neoclassicism to Expressionism
September 16, 2010-January 10, 2011
Neue Galerie New York

January 26-April 25, 2011
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Franz Xaver Messerschmidt video was commissioned as part of the first exhibition in the United States devoted exclusively to this major late 18th-century Bavarian-born Austrian sculptor. It focuses on the artist’s so-called “character heads,” among the most important works of sculpture from their era. The exhibition is organized by Guilhem Scherf, chief curator of sculpture at the Musée du Louvre.

Messerschmidt made his mark at first in Vienna, where he enjoyed a successful career, including several royal commissions. Working in a neoclassical vein, Messerschmidt produced some of the most important sculptures of the eighteenth century. He presented the individual features of his models in a way “true to nature,” in keeping with their age and without idealizing them. No other sculptor in Vienna at the time was similarly uncompromising when producing portraits. 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 decided to return to Wiesensteig, his native Bavarian town. From that period on, Messerschmidt devoted himself to the creation of his “character heads,” the body of work for which he would become best known. To produce these works, the artist would look into the mirror, pinching his body and contorting his face. He then rendered, with great precision, his distorted expressions. Messerschmidt is known to have produced more than 60 of these astonishing works before he died in 1783 at the age of 47.

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 several later developments in art. This short documentary film provides an overview of the remarkable work and personal history of Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. It also explores the ways in which he has inspired twentieth-century artists.

Directed by
Hakan Topal

Produced by
Newgray, New York

Gregor Grkinic
Hakan Topal

Hakan Topal

Art Consultant and Researcher
Margaret Samu

Location Sound
Marc Orleans

Location Assistants
Shai Zurim, New York
Boris Steiner, Vienna

Editing and Story Consultant
Kari Conte

Sound Mastering
Nate Greenberg

Barry X Ball, Artist
Deborah Coen, Assistant Professor of History
Barnard College, Columbia University
Charles Janoray, Art dealer, European sculpture and works of art, New York
Dakin Hart, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Ronald S. Lauder, President, Neue Galerie New York
Ian Wardropper, Chairman, Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Music By
Karlheinz Stockhausen
Klavierstück I-XI
With kind permission of Universal Edition (London) Ltd., London
Alper Yilmaz, Composer, New York

Thanks to
Renée Price, Director, Neue Galerie New York
Scott Gutterman, Deputy Director, Neue Galerie New York
Agnes Husslein, Director ,Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna
Sabine Abasser, Anthony Cragg Office, London
Jennifer Burbank, Sperone Westwater Gallery New York,
Chris Burnside, Cheim and Read, New YorkAli M. Demirel,Artist, Berlin
Lilla Fekete, Barry X Ball Studio, New York
Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, Salon 94, New York
Ulrich Hofstätter, Hofgalerie, Vienna
Guven Incirlioglu, xurban_collective, Izmir
Glenys Johnson, Tony Bevan Studio, London
Andrea Mihalovic-Lee, VAGA, New York
Claudia Ponton, Art Resource, New York
Chelsea Rhadigan, Artists Rights Society, New York
Sefa Saglam, Director of Exhibitions and Registrar, Neue Galerie New York
Clarissa Stadler, Vienna
Angela Westwater, Sperone Westwater Gallery, New York
Wendy Williams, Louise Bourgeois Studio, New York
James Woodward, Metro Pictures Gallery, New York

Art Credits
Alinari / Art Resource, New York
Andrea Jemolo/Scala / Art Resource, New York
Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz / Art Resource, New York
CNAC/MNAM/Dist. Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, New York
Erich Lessing / Art Resource, New York
Foto Marburg / Art Resource, New York
The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource, New York
The Museum of Fine Arts Budapest/Scala / Art Resource, New York
Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, New York
Scala / Art Resource, New York
Vanni / Art Resource, New York
© 2010 The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. / ARS, New York / DACS, London
Barry X. Ball, New York
Cheim & Read, New York
Tony Bevan, London
Art© Louise Bourgeois Trust/VAGA, New York
Peter Moore © Estate of Peter Moore/ VAGA, NY
© 2010 Tony Cragg / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.
© 2010 Bruce Nauman / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Sperone Westwater, New York
© 2010 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Cindy Sherman, Metro Pictures Gallery, New York
The Neue Galerie wishes to extend its thanks to all of the institutions and individuals who have generously provided loans for the realization of this exhibition.

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