Abstract

This essay challenges the notion that the disquieting grimaces and facial aberrations of sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt's Character Heads can be explained through suppositions about his eccentric or lunatic creative persona. In contrast, by foregrounding the objects themselves within a close visual analysis, Messerschmidt's sculptures are revealed as a kind of communication, but ironically an uncommunicative one, that empowered the artist to explore aspects of his craft that conventional artistic activity forbade. That we are unable to access a straightforward motivation behind his practice is precisely what renders it and these objects so compelling.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 431-451
Launched on MUSE
2009-03-29
Open Access
No
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