WASHINGTON – One side of an artist’s work is often selected to hang on a museum’s wall. In a new exhibit at the National Gallery of Art,however,visitors can see multiple sides of the works of Norwegian impressionist artist Edvard Munch.
“Edvard Munch: Master Prints” will be on display in the East Building until Oct. 31,and features 59 of the artist’s most famous prints,including “The Scream” and “Madonna.”
Exhibit curator Andrew Robison said Munch’s appeal comes from his ability to take emotional events and create iconic images.
“The great thing about an artist … is being able to take those intense,personal experiences and make something out of it. In that,Edvard Munch was king,” Robison said.
Born in 1865 in Norway,Munch created more than 700 works of art and was heavily influenced by the impressionist and symbolist
movements. He became popular in the 1890s and continued to create art until his death in 1944.
Robison and co-curator Elizabeth Prelinger spent several decades researching variations in Munch’s works. Robison said the exhibition offers a “new view” of Munch and includes prints from three collections. Many of the prints are rarely seen in public.
“His great prints tell his story brilliantly. And that’s the story we’re telling in this exhibition,” he said.
The exhibit has five sections,each focusing on different collections of prints and the variations Munch created over time. Prints of the same subject are lined up side-by-side so visitors can compare the changes in color,texture and detail.
In three versions of the print “Sin,” a portrait of a nude woman,the changes are obvious. In the first print,the woman is colored darkly,but in the third,she has vibrant green eyes and flaming red hair.
In others,the changes are more subtle. Munch printed images on different types of paper to affect coloring or carved changes into the wood block used to create the print.
Munch revisited many of his prints throughout his life,often changing aspects to reflect trends and movements in the art world. Robison and Prelinger provided dates for each version of an image.
“This show is really an argument,” Prelinger said. “We try to make a scientific argument for when the various impressions might have been made. In some cases,these are hypotheses,which we have tried to prove.”
Robison said the second date is important to consider because it meant the print was created in a “different artistic context.”
“Munch was a different age,he had different experiences,he had different artistic challenges,” he said. “We have to understand when the actual impression was made and what Munch is doing with it at that point.”
Prelinger and Robison will host a lecture on the exhibit Sept. 26 at 2 p.m.,followed by a book signing. The first of several gallery talks will be Aug. 10 at 1 p.m.