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Face to Face: Marc Quinn meets Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, Belvedere Museum Vienna picture

Belvedere Palace will juxtapose Marc Quinn’s eight-part sculpture series Emotional Detox with the iconic Character Heads by Baroque sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. The exhibition at the Upper Belvedere presents a powerful dialogue between contemporary art and major works from the museum’s historical collection. Messerschmidt’s work has long been an inspiration to Quinn, the Character Heads directly influencing the creation of Emotional Detox.

Marc Quinn’s eight life-sized sculptural self-portraits are products of a challenging period in the artist’s life. In the early 1990s, Quinn was processing the psychological and physical transformation brought on by the cessation of his alcohol addiction. During this period, he regularly visited Messerschmidt’s sculpture ‘The Strong Smell’ at the V&A in London, enamoured by the 18th century artist’s expressive depiction of mental health struggle. This interest in capturing the fleeting emotive qualities of facial expressions and gestures connects the two artists across the centuries. Messerschmidt’s Character Heads series, of which ‘The Strong Smell’ is part, inspired Quinn to translate his own journey of detoxification into lead and wax sculptures which would come to form the Emotional Detox series. Traces of the artist’s hand can be found within the materiality of each artwork: grooves, convulsions and fingerprints scarify each expression, as though toxicity is being excreted from the skin, the inside forced out. Both artists use lead, a material known for its toxicity and role in the fabled alchemical journey that results in gold; a symbolic base metal on a journey of transformation. Marking the very first time that Messerschmidt and Quinn are shown together, Face To Face grapples with profoundly personal, vital transitions, linking these two bodies of work across time to paint poignant picture of shared human experience.

24 February 2022 - 3 July 2022

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