Saturday, July 22, 2017

Multiculti Saturday 4: Munch at SFMOMA

A major Edward Munch painting exhibit, on loan from his namesake museum in Oslo, has just opened at SFMOMA and it's well worth visiting.

Even though there doesn't seem to be a single happy person on display in any of the 47 paintings, the effect is not depressing, possibly because the colors throughout are so gorgeously vibrant, including the 1907 The Death of Marat above.

According to a well-written Wikipedia entry, "[On his first visit to Paris in 1889 as a student] Munch was enthralled by the vast display of modern European art, including the works of three artists who would prove influential: Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec." As you can see in the 1894 Ashes above, Munch's use of color is as bold as anything from those other famous artists. And like those artists, his paintings improve when seeing them in person which is not always the case. (For some reason, I've always preferred reproductions of Dali over the real thing.)

Munch was born in 1863 to a large Norwegian family plagued by illness, early deaths and insanity, subjects which wove themselves into most of his work, including the 1895 The Smell of Death above.

Directly before his eight-month, 1908 hospitalization for anxiety, binge drinking, and brawling, he painted a number of commercially successful variations on The Sick Child, dying of tuberculosis. "As part of his recovery, Dr. Jacobson advised Munch to only socialize with good friends and avoid drinking in public."

Munch followed Jacobsen's advice and though plagued with illness all his life (the painting above is the 1919 Self-Portrait with the Spanish Flu), he managed to survive to age 81, dying in Nazi-occupied Norway in 1944. He also continued painting to the end and it's all great, surprisingly so because I have never seen most of these paintings even in reproduction.

None of the iconic The Scream paintings or drawings are part of the exhibit, which is refreshing, but never fear. You can still buy the tote bag in the gift shop.


Eric Pease said...

No Scream paintings but two Munch paintings at SFMOMA very reminiscent of The Scream.

Really enjoyed the show.

Civic Center said...

Me too. I'm going back.