'Franz Xaver Messerschidt' is the first exhibition in the USA devoted to this major late 18th-century Austro-Bavarian sculptor. It will focus on the artist's so-called "character heads". Working in a neo-classical vein, Messerschmidt made his mark at first in Vienna, where he met success and had several imperial commissions. He presented the individual features of his models in a way "true to nature", in keeping with their age and without idealising them. Around 1770, there was a rupture in Messerschmidt's life. The artist was thought to have psychological problems, lost his position at the university, and returned to Wiesensteig, his native Bavarian town. Messerschmidt devoted himself to the creation of his "character heads", the body of work for which he would become famous. To produce these works, the artist would look into the mirror, pinching his body and making faces. He then rendered, with great precision, his distorted face. Messerschmidt is known to have produced 49 of these astonishing works before he died in 1783. Messerschmidt can be seen in relation to artists such as William Blake and Francisco Goya for his explorations of the dark side of the human soul. His "character heads", in particular, are masterly works of sculpture, whose expressive intensity anticipates later developments in art.