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.
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.
Table of Contents
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