STUTTGART.- The Staatsgalerie
honours the 150th birthday of Edvard Munch (18631944) by presenting its precious holdings of works by the Norwegian painter and graphic artist in their entirety for the first time in more than fifty years.
Numbering approximately sixty worksincluding twenty-five privately owned examples which are on permanent loan to the museum the exhibition provides insights into the formal approach and thematic diversity typical of Edvard Munch.
The close link between his biography and his oeuvre, between what he experienced and how he processed it inwardly his life with and virtually "in" art make Munch one of the very most fascinating figures in art.
Munch and His Ties to Stuttgart
Recently discovered letters provide evidence that Munch visited the Stuttgart museum as early as August 1923, and also continued to cultivate his contact to then Staatsgaleries director Otto Fischer after that date. These sources thus also bear further testimony to the interest of the museums early directors in the art of their own times. It is the continuation of their collecting activities through the ongoing acquisition of modern art by their successors that we now have to thank for holdings which are unique in quantity and quality alike. The exhibition is a shining example of this fortunate state of affairs: The Staatsgalerie is in the fortunate position of owning the only existing proof of the print which gained fame as The Scream (Der Schrei) on violet-coloured paper. Our proof, however, shows that the artist himself entitled the work Geschrei, a collective noun which could be translated as Screaming.
I don't paint what I see, but what I saw. --Edvard Munch
That is how Munch described his conception of art as something profoundly indebted to his personal life. To a degree seldom encountered in the work of any painter before him, feelings and inner states dominate his pictorial themes, and he found a way of capturing the abysses of human existence. Death makes frequent appearances in his works, as in Self-Portrait with Skeleton Arm of 1895 or as a skeleton in an embracing pose in Death and the Maiden of 1894.
Other themes encountered again and again and in countless variations like leitmotifs in Munch's oeuvre are fear, love, jealousy and desperation. The exhibition provides insight into how his works mirror personal calamities, illnesses, depressions, and a constant fear of life. The artist was almost obsessively preoccupied with the image of woman the opposite sex was a perpetual enigma to him, and sometimes even ominous. Women appear in his works in portraits, but also as vampires, demons and other generally in accessible beings, as seen, for instance, in Vampire II (1895/1902), one of the few prints in which the artist combined the colour lithography and colour woodcut techniques.
It already puts me in a good mood just to hold a copper plate in my hands. I like drawing on copper more than on paper. The needle is also the very finest of tools. ---Edvard Munch
In painting and printmaking alike, Munch's variations on his themes were accompanied by equally multifarious experiments with technique. Particularly in the context of printmaking, he untiringly tried out new ideas. The changeable printing plates, whether of metal, stone or wood, provided the basis for the numerous elaborations and executions of his recurring pictorial motifs.