A Face Refuses Contact

"If you try to replicate the exact expression, it's nearly impossible to do."—Alice Schwarz, educator

Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (German, 1736–1783). A Hypocrite and a Slanderer, ca. 1770–83. Tin alloy. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Fund, and Lila Acheson Wallace, Mr. and Mrs. Mark Fisch, and Mr. and Mrs. Frank E. Richardson Gifts, 2010 (2010.24). Learn more about this object.

How does the sculpted body communicate? Hear from Met experts, leading authorities, and rising stars, each with a unique viewpoint on the language of gesture, facial expression, and pose.

See all viewpoints: http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/viewpoints
Join the conversation: #MetViewpoints

Alice Schwarz: What on earth is that man looking at? Sort of crouch down a little bit, so that you are looking up to his face, and try to replicate the exact expression. It's nearly impossible to do.

Wolfram Koeppe: You try to find a way to get into contact, but one recognizes very clearly that the figure does not look to establish contact. It looks very concentrated, in a way. By the head tilting down, the eyes are looking down and the chin is pressing onto the chest, and the skin around the neck starts to form folds on the side, which come together at the front and almost look like a three-parted necklace. He is reserved. Even if I would try to speak to the person, I could not establish contact because he would not answer.

Related Videos