Edvard Munch (pronounced Moonk) is best known for The Scream – the painting itself is an expressionistic exclamation point marking an emotional era in art. After walking through the recent Munch exhibit at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, The Scream seemed to me to be the culmination of a life's work; an exasperated attempt to express the entirety of life's frustrations and anxiety. The exhibition portrayed the work of a man gripped with the beauty and fatality of every moment. Images of vampires, sick women, and the famous painting entitled "two lonely ones" standing by the water's edge (pictured below).
Munch was also obsessed with self-portrait photographs. I was overcome with a sense of earnest loneliness walking past his 4 x 6 washed out photos of Munch in bed, or gazing sternly out the window, or of his own profile. Was he trying to see if others' saw his paintings like he saw them: full of color, visceral objects in constant motion, jumping off the frame, still for a moment, and then gone?
He seemed to be overwhelmed with the beauty and solitude in life – using color and exaggerated reference points to impose a sense of urgency, of tragedy and stillness at the same time. Figures with faces stand out in great detail – serving as the proverbial punctuation marks, while the supporting roles stand as auxiliary auras – holding still in space. Munch instills the unbelievable power to feel within one figure the emotion of the entire room – with empathy to the all-to-common human experience of standing alone in a room and with many.
Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye just concluded at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, but will resume at the Tate Modern in London this summerfrom June 28 to October 14, and in the meantime Edvard Munch's Masterpieces is on view now until May at the Munch Museet in Oslo, Norway which houses a majority of his works including 1,100 paintings, 4,500 drawings and 18,000 prints. Text by Angelina Dreem for Pas Un Autre.
Photo by Angelina Dreem