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Messerschmidt

Messerschmidt
Messerschmidt was an eighteen-century German sculptor, mostly active in Austria. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna in 1755. During the German Enlightenment period, the artist started his career working for important patrons such as Maria Theresa of Austria and the princess of Savoy. After his mental health condition began to deteriorate, Messerschmidt decided to live with his brother, secluded in Bratislava. For the remaining six years of his life, he worked on his well-known 60 heads series of untitled character heads sculptures. Scholars have compared Messerschmidt to the Baroque master Gian Lorenzo Bernini, in his emphasis of rendering portrait busts with likeness and naturalism while attempting to capture the personality of the subject. However, unlike Bernini, the subject of his portrait busts was himself and therefore the significance of the 60-character portrait bust series changes, for it represents the attempt of Messerschmidt to capture the human moods, expressions or demons dwelling inside, common to all humans. A contemporary wrote that Messerschmidt told him that by making the character heads, he hoped to ward away spirits that invaded his mind. Studies in physiognomy were highly popular at the time. Perhaps as influential was Messerschmidt's undiagnosed mental condition, which could have been schizophrenia. Messerschmidt was an eighteen-century German sculptor, mostly active in Austria. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna in 1755. During the German Enlightenment period, the artist started his career working for important patrons such as Maria Theresa of Austria and the princess of Savoy. After his mental health condition began to deteriorate, Messerschmidt decided to live with his brother, secluded in Bratislava. For the remaining six years of his life, he worked on his well-known 60 heads series of untitled character heads sculptures. Scholars have compared Messerschmidt to the Baroque master Gian Lorenzo Bernini, in his emphasis of rendering portrait busts with likeness and naturalism while attempting to capture the personality of the subject. However, unlike Bernini, the subject of his portrait busts was himself and therefore the significance of the 60-character portrait bust series changes, for it represents the attempt of Messerschmidt to capture the human moods, expressions or demons dwelling inside, common to all humans. A contemporary wrote that Messerschmidt told him that by making the character heads, he hoped to ward away spirits that invaded his mind. Studies in physiognomy were highly popular at the time. Perhaps as influential was Messerschmidt's undiagnosed mental condition, which could have been schizophrenia.

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