The Getty Center
Date: Thursday, August 30, 2012
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Harold M. Williams Auditorium
Admission: Free; reservations recommended. Call (310) 440-7300 or use the "Make Reservation" button below.
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Variation of A Cheeky Nitpicky Mocker / Messerschmidt
 
The urban culture of Vienna in the late 18th century and the late 19th century––created Western Classical music. Freud's Vienna of the late 19th century, fin–de–siècle Vienna, established the agenda of European modernism in art and design, literature and drama, and music and psychology.

The mysterious "character heads" of Messerschmidt's sculpture belong to the emotional eruption of literary Sturm und Drang. Messerschmidt began to work on the heads in Vienna at a time when the violent emotions of Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther inspired passionate suicides all over Europe in the 1770s. By the early 1780s Mozart, who was in Vienna, was already reflecting on the problem of how to contain extreme emotions within the formal structures and harmonious expectations of classical style. How could opera characters express even ugly emotions on stage while the music remained beautiful? How could sculpture represent those same emotions while wrestling with the elegant conventions of Rococo and Neoclassical art?

In Freud's Vienna, a century later, the problem of human emotions was re-conceived as one of repressed passions and instincts, and both art and literature participated in the Freudian intellectual upheaval. Gustav Klimt, leader of the artistic Secession movement, was the generational contemporary of Freud, as well as Gustav Mahler and Arthur Schnitzler. Klimt explored his own artistic avenues for representing the intensity of the emotions within a formal artistic framework: the shimmering color and gold of his paintings and the tensely sensual lines of his drawings which suggest how much of emotion and instinct could be contained within a mere outline of the human form.

Larry Wolff, professor of history at New York University and a specialist in the history of Habsburg, Austria, discusses the city of Vienna in these two different, culturally spectacular moments––Mozart's Vienna and Freud's Vienna––that shaped the work of Messerschmidt and Klimt, as these artists sought new ways to represent human emotions.

Complements the exhibitions Messerschmidt and Modernity and Gustav Klimt: The Magic of Line.


How to Get Here
The Getty Center is located at 1200 Getty Center Drive in Los Angeles, California, approximately 12 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. See Hours, Directions, Parking for maps and driving directions.