Messerschmidt and Modernity

Posted in Exhibitions and Installations, Getty Research Institute, J. Paul Getty Museum, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Physiognomy, The Beautiful Pseudoscience

Untitled / Ken Gonzales-Day

What do the expressions “highbrow” and “lowbrow” have in common with saying a woman has “mousey” features? What does Homer Simpson have to do with photographs of sculpture in profile by contemporary artist Ken Gonzales-Day? All are contemporary manifestations of… More»

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Posted in Exhibitions and Installations, J. Paul Getty Museum, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Victims of Soicumstance: My Automatic Visual Reactions to Messerschmidt

Untitled (Big Man) / Ron Mueck

A room full of Franz Xaver Messerschmidt’s Character Heads—currently at the Getty Center as part of the exhibition Messerschmidt and Modernity—may be the best place in L.A. right now to observe neurobiological reactions to human expression. The heads are not… More»

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Posted in Behind the Scenes, Exhibitions and Installations, J. Paul Getty Museum, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Curator’s Diary: Installing “Messerschmidt and Modernity”

Alabaster busts by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt in Messerschmidt and Modernity at the Getty Center

No amount of preparation over the life of an exhibition–from conception to development through implementation and finally installation–prepares you for the moments of surprise and delight as objects arrive from lenders and are uncrated and placed in the galleries. The… More»

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Posted in Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

In Search of Messerschmidt’s “Vexed Man”

The Vexed Man, Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, 1771–83. Alabaster, 16 9/16 in. high

New for summer 2012—The Vexed Man is back at the Getty, but he’s moved from his usual haunts for the exhibition Messerschmidt and Modernity, July 24–October 13, 2012. The show brings together several of Messerschmidt’s Character Heads, including the excellently… More»

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      All Hail Tiberius, Least Media-Savvy of the Roman Emperors

      Tiberius was proclaimed Roman emperor on September 17 in AD 14, exactly 2,000 years ago.

      He was also a bit wacko. “He was the least media-savvy emperor you could imagine,” says curator David Saunders, who has been in charge of this bronze portrait of Tiberius which leaves us on September 22. He point to this description found in the writings of Cassius Dio:

      Tiberius was a patrician of good education, but he had a most peculiar nature. He never let what he desired appear in his conversation, and what he said he wanted he usually did not desire at all. On the contrary, his words indicated the exact opposite of his real purpose; he denied all interest in what he longed for, and urged the claims of what he hated. He would exhibit anger over matters that were far from arousing his wrath, and make a show of affability where he was most vexed…In short, he thought it bad policy for the sovereign to reveal his thoughts; this was often the cause, he said, of great failures, whereas by the opposite course, far more and greater successes were attained.

      Moreover, David tells us, “Tiberius’s accession itself was a farrago: Tiberius sort-of feigning reluctance, the Senate bullying him, he being all, ‘Well, if-I-have-to,’ and in the end—according to Suetonius—saying he’ll do it as long as he can retire.”

      Suetonius is full of great, albeit spurious, anecdotes about poor old Tiberius, David reports. “When someone addressed him as ‘My Lord,’ it is said, Tiberius gave warning that no such insult should ever again be thrown at him.”

      Happy accession, My Lord!

      Portrait Head of Tiberius (“The Lansdowne Tiberius”), early 1st century A.D., Roman. The J. Paul Getty Museum

      Statue of Tiberius (detail), Roman, A.D. 37, Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei – Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Laboratorio di Conservazione e Restauro. Currently on view at the Getty Villa following conservation and study.

      09/17/14

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