Follow a thread between the centuries as Marc Quinn’s eight-part Emotional Detox series of sculptures stands in dialogue with Franz Xaver Messerschmidt’s Baroque character heads.
- Unique and fascinating juxtaposition of self-portrayals sharing similar creative foundations
- Runs Feb 24 – Jul 3, 2022
- See also:
- Contemporary art in Vienna
Quinn meets Messerschmidt
(Marc Quinn, Emotional Detox II, 1995 (© Marc Quinn Studio) and Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, Character Head No.33, 1777/1783 (© Belvedere, Wien); image courtesy of Marc Quinn studio)
Nestled among the many art treasures within the Belvedere galleries are a series of remarkable, if a little startling, busts from the late 1700s.
Created by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, these busts defy any expectations you might have of generous representations of Baroque luminaries. The “character heads” often bear contorted expressions that seem like they’d be more at home flanking doorways in the Tate Modern.
Current thinking suggests Messerschmidt may have used the busts to capture his own countenance during spasmic movements caused by dystonia.
Now jump to the 1990s and the self-portraits in lead and candle wax by the celebrated visual artist Marc Quinn.
These sculptures give form to the physical and psychological torment of detoxification brought on by Quinn overcoming his addiction to alcohol.
Quinn’s inspiration to give sculpted physical expression to detoxification stemmed in part from the traditional iconography of the seven deadly sins, but also from his long observations of The Strong Smell (one of Messerschmidt’s character heads that can still be seen at London’s Victoria & Albert museum).
In the Face to Face exhibition, Quinn juxtaposes these Emotional Detox sculptures with Belvedere’s Messerschmidt busts.
This is the first time the works appear together; the dialogue between the two transcends the centuries and highlights the threads that exist between the two series.
Both deal with harrowing self-portrayal, transformation and transition, for example. But the connection exists at a more visceral level, too, inducing a common fascination in even an art-adverse observer.
P.S. Be sure to go beyond the main exhibition room to see plaster sculptures by Quinn beneath older plaster casts of Messerschmidt’s busts: the commonality becomes even more apparent through the shared colour.
Tickets and dates
View the sculptural juxtapositions between February 24th and July 3rd, 2022. A ticket to Upper Belvedere gets you inside.
Vienna has numerous other morsels of modern and contemporary art to offer during much of the same time period. Upper Belvedere itself has the latest in the Carlone Contemporary series of installations, for example, featuring a work by Lena Henke.
How to find the exhibition
Follow the directions for the Belvedere complex. You want the upper palace, home to the Klimt and other art collections. Face to Face is on Level 1 (go left when you emerge from the stairs or lift).
Address: Prinz Eugen-Straße 27, 1030 Vienna