Edvard Munch at The Met Breuer

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday November 15, 2017

Edvard Munch (1863–1944), the Norwegian artist who brought self-scrutiny into the canon of modern art, is the subject of a major exhibition opening today at The Met Breuer.

Born and raised in Kristiana (now Oslo), Munch’s career spanned 60 tears and included his ties with European Symbolism, Expressionism, and Modernism in France, Germany as well as in Norway. Largely self-taught, Munch was a prolific artist who left roughly 1,750 paintings, 18,000 prints and 4,500 watercolors, as well as sculpture, graphic art, theater design and photographs. Below: Edvard Munch, Self-Portrait: Between the Clock and the Bed, 1940–43; courtesy the Munch Museum, Oslo

But he wrote that he didn’t feel that he hit his stride until his 50s. As he progressed from that point on, working for another two decades, he revisited many of the works from earlier in his career, creating the profoundly human and technically daring compositions that convey his obsessions with despair, desire and death. 

Best known to American audiences for his painting, The Scream, Munch is otherwise largely unknown to the general public here, yet is increasingly recognized as one of the foremost innovators of figurative painting in the 20th century. Self-Portrait: Between the Clock and the Bed, 1940-43, which gives its name to the exhibition and is the first painting on view, was made at the end of his career and is presented at the beginning of the show to serve as a touchstone for themes and ideas that are expanded on through another 15 self-portraits which delve into the psychological, the confessional, and the fictional expressions through which he examined his psyche.

The exhibition includes a number of major works seen for the first time in the United States: Lady in Black (1891); Puberty (1894); Jealousy (1907); Death Struggle (1915); Man with Bronchitis(1920); Self-Portrait with Hands in Pockets (1925-26), and Ashes (1925). Also on view will be Sick Mood at Sunset, Despair (1892)—the earliest depiction and compositional genesis of The Scream.


Edvard Munch, The Artist and His Model, 1919–21; courtesy the Munch Museum, Oslo

Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed continues at The Met Breuer throught February 4, 2018. 945 Madison Avenue, NY, NY Info

Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press, the catalogue is available in The Met Store (hardcover, $45). Edvard Munch in DART

Born and raised in Norway, Edvard Munch was one of the most celebrated and controversial artists of his generation. With only brief formal training in painting, Munch was largely self-taught. He was a prolific artist, creating approximately 1,750 paintings, 18,000 prints, and 4,500 watercolors, in addition to sculpture, graphic art, theater design, and film. Munch was associated with the Symbolist and Expressionist movements and their legacies. He exhibited widely throughout Europe, affecting the trajectory of modernism in France, Germany, and Norway. His influence can be seen in the work of such artists as Georg Baselitz, Marlene Dumas, Katharina Grosse, Asger Jorn, Bridget Riley, and Jasper Johns, among others.


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