Exploring life, death, passion and despair, Edvard Munch: Master Prints is on display at the National Gallery of Art.
By Julie LaPorte
Combining pieces from three different collections, the National Gallery of Art presents Edvard Munch: Master Prints – a look at the evolution of artist and technique with side-by-side comparisons of several of Munch’s well-known images. The exhibit will run through October 31st in the NGA’s East Building.
“We all have intense personal experiences – birth, love, security, death, sickness, attraction, repulsion, jealousy,” said Andrew Robison, Andrew W. Mellon Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings. “We all have those experiences. The great thing about an artist is being able to take those personal experiences and universalize them, to make something out of them which speaks to other people. And in that, Edvard Munch was king.”
Because Munch relied heavily on printmaking, he was able to use prints repeatedly – each time changing a line here, a color there, taking out a feature here or putting one in there. Filling three large rooms, the NGA presents these reworked images side-by-side. The result reminded me of the pictures in the Sunday paper where you look from one to the other and see if you can pick out five or ten things that are different. But what is going on here is more than mere child’s play.
By asking what the changes are and why Munch made them is to peer deeper into his emotional and mental psyche, to see the difference time makes in the details that he emphasizes, to consider the context – artistically and politically – in which each revision occurred. This is an exhibition meant to foster reflection.
Drawing on its own Munch collection, the NGA partnered with the Epstein Family as well as with Catherine Woodard and Nelson Blitz Jr. to bring this exhibit to life.
In conjunction with the exhibit, the NGA is presenting many related activities. Elizabeth Prelinger, Keyser Family Professor of Art History and Modern Art at Georgetown University, and Andrew Robison will hold a lecture on September 26 entitled Edvard Munch: Understanding His Master Prints. And there will be Norwegian films and concerts presented throughout September and October.
For more information on the exhibit and related events, go to the National Gallery of Art’s website.