Neue Galerie Collaborates with Musée du Louvre, Paris, on Landmark Exhibition

NEW YORK (August 9, 2010)—From September 16, 2010 to January 10, 2011, the Neue Galerie will present an exhibition of work by the eighteenth-century artist Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. Organized by Guilhem Scherf, chief curator of sculpture at the Musée du Louvre, the exhibition will be on view first at the Neue Galerie, then travel to the Louvre, where it will be on view beginning in late January 2011. This will be the first major museum show in the United States devoted exclusively to this artist. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

“Messerschmidt anticipates the development of Expressionist art, with its emphasis on the subjectivity of emotional experience, by more than a century,” said Renée Price, Director of the Neue Galerie. “The exhibition will extend the mission of the Neue Galerie, showing the roots of Expressionism and providing for a more complete understanding of the works in the museum collection.”

“I first saw the work of Franz Xaver Messerschimdt when I was a teenager, and it made an enormous impression on me,” said Ronald S. Lauder, President of the Neue Galerie. “I hope that all the people who see this exhibition, either here or in Paris, will have the same thrill of excitement that I did on seeing Messerschmidt for the first time.”

Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736–1783) first made his mark in Vienna, where he enjoyed a distinguished career, including several royal commissions and a faculty post at the prestigious Academy of Fine Art. Working in the neoclassical style, he produced some of the most important sculptures of the eighteenth century.

In the early 1770s, there was a rupture in Messerschmidt’s life, to which those around him reacted with rejection. The artist was thought to have developed psychological problems, including hallucinations and paranoia. He lost his position at the university and was forced to sell most of his possessions. Messerschmidt left Vienna in 1775, eventually settling in the Hungarian city of Pressburg (today, Bratislava) where he lived for the rest of his life. Around this time, Messerschmidt began to devote himself to the creation of his so-called “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. The artist said that he created these works as a way to protect himself from evil spirits who tortured him. Messerschmidt is known to have produced 49 of these astonishing works before he died in 1783.

A fully illustrated catalogue, published by Officina Libraria, will accompany the exhibition. With scholarly essays by Guilhem Scherf, Maria Pötzl-Malikova, Antonia Boström, and Marie-Claude Lambotte, it provides an overview of the artist’s life and an analysis of his work.

Concurrent with the exhibition, the museum will present a lecture series featuring a distinguished group of scholars. Lectures are presented at 6:30 p.m. and are free for Members. $8, regular admission; $5, students and seniors. Tickets are available at the main admissions desk on day of lecture.

Thursday, September 16
Guilhem Scherf
Chief Curator of Sculpture, Musée du Louvre, Paris
“Franz Xaver Messerschmidt: A Singular Art”

Thursday, September 23
Ian Wardropper
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Chairman, Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
“Story of an Acquisition: Bringing Messerschmidt to the Met”

Thursday, September 30
Philipp Gutbrod
Author, Otto Dix: The Art of Life
“Screams of Release: From Franz Xaver Messerschmidt to Bruce Nauman”

The sculpture of Franz Xaver Messerschmidt was cultivated at the Austrian court, and he was awarded several royal commissions. These films explore aspects of court life, from the grand to the decadent.

Monday, September 20 and 27
Dangerous Liaisons
, 1988
Directed by Stephen Frears
119 minutes

Monday, October 4 and 11
Valmont, 1989
Directed by Milos Forman
137 minutes

Monday, October 18 and 25
Mesmer, 1994
Directed by Roger Spottiswoode
107 minutes

Monday, November 1 and 8
Ridicule, 1996
Directed by Patrice Leconte
102 minutes

Monday, November 15 and 22
Marie Antoinette
, 2006
Directed by Sofia Coppola
123 minutes

Monday, December 6 and 13
The Duchess, 2008
Directed by Saul Dibb
100 minutes

Films are presented free of charge at 4 p.m. in Café Fledermaus.

The exhibition will be open to the public five days per week: Thursday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $15 (students and seniors, $10). Children under 12 are not admitted, and those under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.


Neue Galerie New York
1048 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10028
Tel. 1-212-628-6200, ext. 409
Fax 1-212-628-8824
E-mail: [email protected]