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Exhibition at Pinacotheque Shows Avant-Garde Anguished Edvard Munch had Another Side
Paintings by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch which are presented at the Pinacotheque, in Paris, along with drawings, paintings and engravings by the artist most famously known for his painting: "The Scream". AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere.

By: Elaine Ganley, Associated Press Writer

PARIS (AP).- Edvard Munch plumbed the depths of humanity's anguish with "The Scream," but that iconic painting is but a moment in the life of the Norwegian artist.

A Paris exhibit — entitled the "The Anti-Scream" — looks at another Munch, whose experiments, including subjecting his works to rain or snow or scratching through the canvas, reveal a complex artist who surpassed his inner torment to cut a path into modernity.

The exhibit of more than 170 paintings, lithographs and engravings covers Munch's adolescent beginnings as an artist in 1880 to his death in 1944. Most are drawn from private collections, some getting their first public display at the Pinacotheque de Paris.

The emblematic "Scream," showing an undulating figure with mouth agape under a blood-colored sky, is not representative of Munch's lifetime work, Pinacotheque director Marc Restellini says.

"The exaggerated notoriety of this painting has hidden the real dimension and the true message of the artist."

Munch, considered a pioneer of Expressionism, moved from medium to medium, trying to capture the inner essence of his subject or portray the ephemeral nature of life — and art itself. He subjected paintings to weather, and eventually incorporated photographs or films into some works.

"He was absolutely a pioneer," said curator Dieter Buchhart. "There are not many artists who have influenced so many," he said, adding that Andy Warhol was among artists who paid tribute to Munch's work.

Munch began his artistic life doing landscape paintings that copied the style of the Norwegian masters. But he was frustrated because his work failed to capture what he really saw at the moment he saw it.

In an effort to find that "first painting," he introduced another element — chance — exposing his works to sun, rain or snow with the so-called "kill or cure treatment."

The pale, washed colors in a version of "Puberty," a young girl on the edge of her bed, created between 1914 and 1916, show the effects of this treatment, often carried out in an outdoor studio in Ekely, outside Oslo.

Munch also scratched through works, sometimes down to the wooden supports behind the canvas. A version in the exhibition of "A Sick Child," an 1896 lithograph in reds and pinks portraying a fragile, wispy-haired young girl in profile, is covered with scratch marks.

Munch lost his mother at age 5, then, one by one, his two siblings, personal traumas that were distilled in his works. The death of sister Sophie of tuberculosis inspired various versions of "The Sick Child."

"The essence of what I later became proceeds from this painting," Munch wrote in his diaries.

A sense of the morbid permeates other works of this period, including a 1896 engraving of two nude women gazing at a skeleton, and "The Woman and the Heart," also 1896, showing a nude woman seated on the ground holding a heart dripping with blood.

"'The Scream' was the symbol of the 20th century due to World War I, World War II, the characterization of the brutality of the 20th century," said Buchhart.

"Of course, you'll find little screams" in his other work, Buchhart said. But "95 percent of the works of Munch are not connected to 'The Scream.'"

Paintings like "Laundry on the Line in Asgardstrand" (1902), a homey backyard scene in vivid color, or "Summer Night in Studenterlunden" (1899), showing an outdoor scene with a couple kissing in the foreground, evoke a world Munch lost as a youth.

"It's about painting, about color, about style. ... It's showing an expression not just in a symbolic way but in a painterly way," said Bucchart.

The exhibit runs through July 18. The Pompidou Center across town plans a major Munch exhibit in the fall.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Pinacotheque | Edvard Munch | Dieter Buchhart | "The Anti-Scream" |

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