Sunday, November 14, 2010

What a Piece

At the Neue Galerie, a fascinating, bizarre exhibition, through January 10th: the busts of Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. The exhibition blurb:
Around 1770, there was a rupture in Messerschmidt’s life. The artist was thought to have psychological problems, lost his position at the university, and decided to return to Wiesensteig, his native Bavarian town. From that period on, Messerschmidt devoted himself to the creation of his “character heads,” the body of work for which he would become best known. To produce these works, the artist would look into the mirror, pinching his body and contorting his face. He then rendered, with great precision, his distorted expressions. Messerschmidt is known to have produced more than 60 of these astonishing works before he died in 1783 at the age of 47.
 This one is called "The Yawner." The Neue Galerie is at 1048 Fifth Avenue at 86th Street, is frequently mispelt in the press, and unfortunately charges $15 for admission; hours: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

As someone pointed out, "The Yawner" is probably unique in Western art for its accurate portrayal of the underside of the human tongue... And now, a warning! A cliché.
What piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable!