Edvard Munch, Self-Portrait in Front of the House Wall, 1926 (courtesy of Munch Museum)
Ryan Wong reviews the exhibition Munch 150 at the Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo, Norway, on view through October 13, 2013.
Wong writes: "When Munch died, he left his works — some 1,000 paintings, and thousands more prints and watercolors, to the municipality of Oslo. It was an act of national pride, and one that made this celebration possible. Unfortunately, it is also why his works are not seen more outside of Norway; because most are fragile, they rarely travel, and when they do it is only a few at a time. The world knows Munch the angst-filled romantic; it takes a trip to Oslo to find the sunny nationalist, the detached elder, the peripatetic intellectual. But now that New York has its own Scream and this exhibition attracts international attention, we have a chance to complicate our view of this painter, who showed us both the horrific and luminous."
Butler writes that the show "focus[es] on the neglected aspects of [Munch's] often radical work, particularly his use of film and photography..." She also calls attention to a fascinating group of paintings and drawings Munch made after "he suffered a serious intraocular hemorrhage in his right eye, and, later, another one in his left. The condition left a blind spot, splotches and blood clots that impacted both his vision and his painting. He documented the effects in watercolors and drawings, but the visual impairment affected his other work as well."
Ruthven writes: "Rather than a study of modernity in Munch per se, the exhibition presents the relationship between Munch's art and technology. Technology in the wider sense of the term, his own body- the hand shot by his lover, his deteriorating eyesight – and also the technology of external tools – the cinemas Munch frequented and the photographs he took..."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.