From 24 February to three July 2022, the Belvedere in Vienna presents “Face to Face“, an exhibition juxtaposing Marc Quinn‘s contemporary sculptures with the famous “character heads” of the Baroque sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt.
Image: Marc Quinn, “Emotional Detox II”, 1995 (© Marc Quinn Studio) and Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, “Character Head No.33”, 1777/1783 (© Belvedere, Vienna). Image courtesy of Marc Quinn Studio ·· Marc Quinn, “Fear of Fear”, 1994 Image courtesy of Marc Quinn studio
Created over the last years of the artist’s life (between 1770 and 1783), Franz Xaver Messerschmidt’s “character heads” are among the many most unique and enigmatic sculptures in Baroque sculpture. Sometimes considered satires on the society of his time, with which Messerschmidt was deeply disenchanted, a number of current research -mentioned by the Belvedere on the event of the exhibition- recommend that the artist could have suffered from dystonia and that the exaggerated expressions of his “characters” are a illustration of his involuntary muscle spasms. In any case, the bizarre expressiveness of those heads has made them among the many hottest sculptural works as we speak, each among the many common public and amongst modern artists.
Among the modern artists who have been fascinated by Messerschmidt’s “characters” is the British artist Marc Quinn (London, b.1964), as we speak finest identified for his large-scale sculptures, usually conceived for outside set up, similar to his Sphinx, based mostly on the supermodel Kate Moss, or his current, vindictive and controversial A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020. But within the early Nineteen Nineties, Quinn created a collection of eight sculptural self-portraits largely impressed by Messerschmidt’s sculpture The Strong Smell, on show on the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
This collection, generally known as Emotional Detox, was created throughout a interval when the artist was within the technique of recovering from his habit to alcohol, and displays the results of withdrawal on the artist’s physique and thoughts. The juxtaposition with Messerschmidt’s works (which, as now we have seen, are additionally a first-person testimony to the artist’s bodily difficulties) is subsequently notably enriching. The Belvedere, which has the biggest assortment of “character heads” by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, appears a great place for this encounter.