Collection: Franz Xaver Messerschmidt & Maria Likarz-Strauss
Franz Xaver Messerschmidt
By age 34, Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736-1783) had studied and worked in Vienna and Rome, and returned in turmoil to his native Bavaria. He had been passed over for an important job at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, and then fired from the Academy for odd behavior.
Called schizophrenic, a freak of nature, and necromantic, Messerschmidt said he was inhabited by evil spirits which he had to defend against. Another theory was that he suffered from what is now known as Crohn's Disease, which causes considerable abdominal discomfort. He lived simply, surviving off small commissions and working on the heads. While delving into the darker side of the human condition, Messerschmidt's masterly sculptural works of expressive intensity shed light on the roots of Expressionism. He died at 47 of pneumonia.
Though seldom more than mentioned by name in books on the subject, Maria Likarz-Strauss (1893-1971) was one of the most prolific pattern designers of the Wiener Werkstätte. She produced 200 designs in a broad stylistic range including floral elements and geometric patterns as well as repeating abstract patterns, a precursor to the Art Deco style.