Friday, April 22, 2016

Edvard Munch and the Sea

Edvard Munch and the Sea, will be on view exclusively at Tacoma Art Museum April 9 through July 17, 2016. This is your opportunity to dive deep into Munch’s powerful works, rarely exhibited in the Pacific Northwest, with26of his exceptional prints and a key painting. TAM has brought these dynamic works to Tacoma from major institutions across the country, including the National Gallery of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, deYoung Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and from private collectors.

While he’s best known for his iconic work The Scream, Munch explored a host of other subjects. This exhibition focuses on the sea as a profound element in his work. He used the sea as the subject of landscapes, as a backdrop for human interactions, and as a metaphor for love, longing, grief, joy, and other tumultuous emotions.

He sought to live and work by the sea, often painting outdoors in the Norwegian landscape. 

The Honorary Norwegian Consul Kim Nesselquist connected TAM’s curators with art collector Sally Epstein, who has amassed the largest private Munch print collection outside of the Munch Museumin Oslo, Norway.A core group of the prints in the exhibition are from her collection. Epstein’s persistent interest in Munch took her to his homeland multiple times as she sought to learn more about the artist and his work.Af ascinating person in her own right, Epstein has lectured on Munch at the National Gallery and other institutions. 

A leading artist of the expressionist and symbolist movements, Munch often used the sea to convey emotions and moods. His depictions of women are complex as well, revealing his experiences with relationships, loss and griefin scenes played out on rocky shores and sinuous coastlines. 

Munch was a person who experienced life intensely, who felt deeply, and his images reflect that. These are very strong images with many layers of meaning, Neutralia for example isn’t just two women happily picking apples in the springtime. It is about joy in nature, but it is more importantly a political statement. There is a boat in the background being overwhelmed by waves, a ship going down, which represents Europe. He’s telling us that he was not happy that Norway remained neutral in World War I, going on with daily life,while the rest of Europe was struggling.

In 2012, Munch’s famous 1895 pastel The Scream became the world’s most expensive work of art ever auctioned (at the time)at Sotheby’s. Although The Scream won’t be on view,the print Angst features the same setting –the Åsgårdstrand pier at sunset –and mask-like fraught faces. Both images are raw expressions of Munch’s lifelong battles with anxiety and loneliness. Several other prints in the exhibition include elements of The Scream, as Munch liked to work and rework the same motifs. 

TAM has also arranged to have on view

Andy Warhol’s 1984 screen print tribute The Scream(after Munch). 

Munch was a master printmaker, advancing new techniques and mastering all aspects of his craft.TAM has highlighted the Northwest’s passion for printmaking innumerous exhibitions and the Munch exhibition continues the museum’s interest in exploring the artistry of printwork. By his own estimations, the prolific Munch created some 30,000 impressions of his prints. This exhibition reflects the vast influences of Edvard Munch on printmakers and artists today.

Image Credits: 

Edvard Munch(1863-1944), Neutralia (Girls Picking Apples), 1915. Color lithograph, 22½ × 2013/16inches. Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester: Marion Stratton Gould Fund, 72.12. © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Edvard Munch(1863-1944), Angst, 1896. Color lithograph, 16½ × 15 inches. Epstein Family Collection, EFC061.0. Photo by Philip Charles.© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Edvard Munch(1863-1944), On the Waves of Love, 1896. Lithograph, 12¼× 16½ inches. Epstein Family Collection, EFC073.0. Photo by Mark Gulezian. © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Edvard Munch (1863-1944), Summer Evening, 1895. Aquatint and drypoint, 9¾ × 12½ inches.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Rosenwald Collection, 1994, 1994.14.53. © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Edvard Munch (1863-1944), Attraction II, 1896. Lithograph, 1911/16 × 25⅜ inches (sheet). National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the Epstein Family Collection, 2013, 2013.10.1. © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.