This fall the North Carolina Museum of Art
presents Edvard Munch: Symbolism in Print, an exhibition highlighting 26 of the renowned artists haunting prints in a variety of graphic mediaetchings, drypoints, woodcuts, and lithographs. Often derived from his paintings, Munchs prints concentrate on intensely remembered moments in his life, compelling viewers to confront themes of loneliness, lust, despair, and death.
As Munch explored the emotional terrain of his life, he experimented with printmaking, unafraid to break the rules in order to more sharply realize his artistic vision. Because of the bare honesty of his imagery and his relentless inventiveness, Munch is acknowledged as one of the pioneering masters of modern art whose influence continues to be felt by artists today.
Munch has achieved rock star status with the recent sale of The Scream for almost $120 million. But he is much more than the painter of a ludicrously expensive pop icon, insists John Coffey, deputy director for art at the NCMA. Munch is one of the towering image makers of modern times. His works probe the turbulent, even taboo reaches of the human heart with unflinching candor and compassion.
Describing his artistic inspirations, Munch stated, Without anxiety and illness I should have been like a ship without a rudder. The artists anxious relationshipswith his family, his lovers, and society as a wholegenerate images that transcend one mans experience and speak to universal human concerns.
Utterly consumed by his subject matter, Munch often created several versions of the same image. For example, the exhibition features two works titled The Kiss, depicting lovers in an embrace. One print is an etching; the other a woodcut. In the woodcut, the two figures are fused into a single identitya terrifying notion to
Munch. In a pair of woodcuts titled The Lonely Ones, Munch uses the same printing block carved with an image of a couple gazing out to sea. However, each print is inked in different colors, dramatically altering the emotional temperature of the scene.
Far from secondary to his paintings, these dynamic prints are considered his most powerful and potent works. Walking around this gallery, says Coffey, you find yourself at the birth of the modern world with all its thrills and apprehensions.
Drawn from The Museum of Modern Arts extensive holdings of Munch graphics, this exhibition opens in Raleigh on September 23, 2012, and will be on view through February 10, 2013, in Gallery 2 of the Museums East Building. On February 2, 2013, the NCMA features a lecture entitled Munchs Modernity by Dr. Patricia Berman, professor of art at Wellesley College.