"Messerschmidt and Modernity" by . Bostrom

Messerschmidt and Modernity . Bostrom

Getty Publications - (Yale)
Paperback / softback
Publication date:
02 Aug 2012
J. Paul Getty Museum
80 pages: 232 x 192 x 8mm

This is an engrossing exploration of an 18th-century sculptor's influence on artists to the present day. An astonishing group of 69 "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. 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 18th-century European Enlightenment, with its focus on expression and emotion. Yet their position at the apparent limits of rational art have made them compelling to successive generations of artists working in a variety of media.

Antonia Bostrom is senior curator of sculpture and decorative arts at the J. Paul Getty Museum.