Published: January 16, 2001
CHESTNUT HILL, MASS. – The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College will mount a major exhibition of the works of acclaimed artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944). The exclusive exhibition – “Edvard Munch: ” – will be on display from February 5 through May 21. The exhibition is free, however attendance is limited.
The McMullen Museum welcomes the opportunity to show to the American public works of extraordinary quality, rarely if ever seen on public display in North America,” said McMullen Museum of Art director and professor of art History Nancy Netzer.
“Focusing on several key themes that dominated the intellectual and cultural life of Northern Europe at the end of the Nineteenth and first half of the Twentieth Century, `’ will be the most comprehensive exhibition of Munch’s work in America since `Edvard Munch: Symbol and Image’ was shown at the National Gallery in Washington in 1978. It will also be the most broadly interdisciplinary view of Munch’s work ever attempted in an exhibition of such a large scale,” continued Netzer.
The exhibition will comprise 83 outstanding examples of Munch’s paintings and prints from private and public collections including works from a distinguished collection that have only once been on public display. In addition, works will be drawn from leading museums in the United States and Norway.
Lenders include the National Gallery of Norway and the Munch Museum in Oslo, which will contribute important works. In addition, the private collection of Fram Trust, which represents one of the largest and most distinguished assemblages of Munch’s art in the US, will provide a major source of works. The exhibition will also draw on the collections of the several other private collectors, the Harvard University Art Museums, the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
The exhibition includes a painting recently discovered in the wall of Munch’s studio in Asgardstrand, “View from Balcony, Asgardstrand,” never before on public display. It also features such famous paintings as “Self-Portrait in Hell,” “Self-Portrait under the Mask of a Woman,” “Hands,” “The Sun,” and “Starry Night” from Oslo; “The Voice” From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and “Kiss on the Shore” from the Blaffer Foundation in Houston. Famous works on paper include superb examples of “The Scream,” “Anxiety,” “Vampire,” “Attraction,” “Separation,” “Lovers in the Waves,” “Encounter in Space,” and “Melancholy.”
Munch is a unique figure in the history of modern art: he was the first Scandinavian visual artist to earn an international reputation in the explosion of creativity in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century, known as the “Scandinavian Renaissance.” His haunting painting “The Scream” (1893) has become an iconic image of anxiety in the modern world and has made him one of the most recognized artists in the world.
But according to exhibition organizers, there is much more to Munch’s art than this single melodramatic note. He was a highly productive artist who worked for more than six decades, becoming a major portraitist and landscape artist, as well as perhaps the most searching explorer of human passions, including universal themes of love, death and spiritual seeking.
Chief exhibition curator Jeffery Howe, a Boston College associate professor of fine arts, believes “Edvard Munch is popular because his art is so truthful. He focused his art on the life and death issues that concern us all, and rendered the critical moments of life in all their beauty and pain.”
In the aftermath of Impressionism, Munch, along with Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh and French artist Paul Gauguin, was one of the most important artists to make his personal emotions and spiritual longings the focus of his art. A deeply ambitious artist, he sought no less than to express the fundamental themes of life in the modern world, and to portray them in an authentic, powerful style that laid the groundwork for modern Expressionism.
Previous treatments of Munch have not often recognized the religious significance of Munch’s works, but he himself insisted that “In all my work people will see that I am a doubter, but I never deny or mock religion.” In fact, organizers note, his works are sincere representations of his personal attempt to understand the sacred quality of life and the fundamental mystery of existence.
Boston College scholars from a range of disciplines will explore the meanings of Munch’s imagery, his sources in Symbolist art and his legacy for German Expressionism in the context of contemporaneous developments in psychology, literature and philosophy.
The catalogue (approximately 240 pages; 64 color plates and over 130 black and white photographs) will include all of the works in the exhibition as well as many others. It will be published by the McMullen Museum and distributed by University of Chicago Press. The range of essays by the exhibition’s co-curators – all Boston College faculty members from academic disciplines including history, art history, theater and philosophy – underscores the interdisciplinary appeal of Munch’s works.
An Internet exhibition will accompany the Edvard Munch exhibition, in addition to a slate of educational programs including gallery talks, concerts, films and lectures. For more complete listings as available check the web site at www.bc.edu/artmuseum or call 617/552-8100.
Admission to the McMullen Museum is free; it is handicapped accessible and open to the public. The museum is located in Devlin Hall on the Chestnut Hill campus of Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Avenue. From February through May, the McMullen Museum will be open Monday through Friday, 11 am to 4 pm and Saturday and Sunday, 11 am to 6 pm.
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