Laughing like Messerschmidt / The artist as he imagines himself apologising

Who cares if I put a gun to your face?
It was for art’s sake and – just so you know
– it could have been a cannon
I’ve decorated enough of those
to know how they work

It was for art’s sake only, I promise
I didn’t enjoy the look of terror on your face
I just wanted to study it

I’m sorry I scared you, but 
it wouldn’t have been the same if I’d asked
I needed your raw emotion
to express the Gestalt of fear

It could’ve been worse you know
I could’ve sent a hornet from the future
a Schnellbomber carrying my name
would you have liked that any better?

I assure you I tried to use my own face
but I find it hard to scare myself
more than the evil spirits inside me
already do

I’ve laughed, I cried,
pinched myself in front of mirrors
documenting the deformations
disarming the dangers
of being peculiar

For art’s sake, remember?
my intentions were good
sixty-nine Kopfstücke 
the face an index of the mind

unnamed - words blind us to the truth
what is it that we have in common?

tin for tat
hard features, soft stone
chips not chisels

uncontemporary art
unshouldered the burden to please

I imagine myself apologising
Laughing like a Messerschmidt they say
That would be funny
Title: A Hypocrite and a Slanderer, Maker: Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (German, Weisensteig 1736–1783 Pressburg) Date: ca. 1770–83, Culture: Austrian, probably Pressburg (Bratislava), Medium: Tin alloy
Dimensions: Overall (wt. confirmed): 14 9/16 x 9 5/8 x 11 5/8 in., 25lb. (37 x 24.4 x 29.5 cm, 11.3399kg)
Classification: Sculpture, Credit Line: 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
Accession Number: 2010.24

The Met brought me another case of love at first sight today. Check out this 30-minute documentary if you want to fall in love too:

The prompt at today was to “write a poem that delves into the meaning of your first or last name.” I started to look for names to write bout on the website of The Met, because I want to feature one of their art works every day this #NaPoWriMo. I’m so glad I did.

4 thoughts on “Laughing like Messerschmidt / The artist as he imagines himself apologising

  1. Dawn D. McKenzie

    Thank you for taking us on this tour of the Met! It is such a pleasure to go to a museum with a friend! I hadn’t done it in soooo long!
    This series of busts… I probably would have spent hours mesmerised by it too!
    Messerschmidt. Such an interesting name too! The guy made cannons, sculptures, when his name predestined him to be a knife smith! 😉

    1. Angela van Son Post author

      I love the idea of us walking through The Met together. It works, even in this digital way.

      I’m not sure I ever realised what Messerschmidt actually means… Thanks for bringing that to me!

      1. Dawn D. McKenzie

        Yes, I love the idea of us walking through the museum together too. I reminds me of the piece of art I received in Jan and never took the time to thank you for.
        Can I be honest? Until your poem, and listening to the guides explaining about Messerschmidt’s life, it had never occurred to me either. I’d only associated it with the WWII fighter airplanes. But then, all of a sudden, you open my mind to new horizons of cannon maker and sculptor and the word’s actual meaning just jumped at me 😀

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