Exhibition focuses on Edvard Munch's later works and their relevance to contemporary art

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Exhibition focuses on Edvard Munch's later works and their relevance to contemporary art
Andy Warhol, Madonna and Self-Portrait with Skeleton’s Arm (After Munch), 1984. Silkscreen on Lenox Museum Board Gunn and Widar Salbuvik © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Bildrecht, Vienna 2022 © Michal Tomaszewicz.

VIENNA.- The Albertina is dedicating its major spring exhibition of 2022 to Edvard Munch (1863– 1944). This comprehensive showing is unique in several respects: more than 60 works by the Norwegian artist exemplify his impressive oeuvre as one that has been groundbreaking for both modern and contemporary art. Edvard Munch. In Dialogue focuses primarily on Munch's later works and their relevance to contemporary art. Alongside iconic versions of the Madonna and the Sick Child as well as Puberty, it is ultimately also a number of landscape paintings—bearing witness to the uncanny, the threatening, and the alienating—that place Edvard Munch’s perspective on nature, that central theme of symbolism and expressionism, in dialogue with groups of works by important artists of our own time. In addition to the direct variations on Munch's iconic images, the exhibition focuses on works by artists who are linked to Munch's experimental and modernist expansion of the concept of painting.

Munch’s reception among protagonists of contemporary art is attested to by seven important artists of the present—all of them 20th-century greats—who enter into dialogue with him: Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Georg Baselitz, Miriam Cahn, Peter Doig, Marlene Dumas, and Tracy Emin. The selected groups of works by these artists impressively illustrate the influence that Munch’s art continues to have on subsequent generations.

Andy Warhol

The American Andy Warhol works on Munch's most famous prints: The Scream, Madonna and Munch's Self-Portrait with Bone Arm. Warhol adapted these motifs and created variations in the style of Pop Art. While he makes hardly any changes to the original composition and the subjects of the depiction, Warhol relies above all on the use of various garish colour combinations to create different variations. In this way, he succeeds in rediscovering Munch's prints again and again, modifying them and ultimately transforming them into his own works of differentiated expressiveness.

Jasper Johns

Conversely, the American artist Jasper Johns discovered an alienating pattern in one of Munch’s late works—Self-Portrait. Between the Clock and the Bed—that he then proceeded to isolate and use to cover one of his own paintings as an all-over texture. The abstractornamental pictorial element of a bedspread in a late, pessimistic, midnight self-portrait by Munch becomes Johns' almost obsessively pursued source of inspiration.

Georg Baselitz

Baselitz's reception of Munch includes his forest landscapes and his portraits of the Norwegian painter, some of which are indirect. The German artist sees in the Norwegian the painter who doubts himself and recognises in his nocturnal solitude his artistic destiny. He is fascinated by the everydayness of Munch's portrayals, their dreariness, but also by the inner tension and restlessness that his works trigger, as well as their fleetingness and fragmentary nature.

Miriam Cahn

The works by Miriam Cahn likewise revolve around human emotions ranging from powerless despair and fear to unbridled aggression. That which, in Munch’s output, refers to the battle between the sexes in a way that is typical of his era is turned by Miriam Cahn into an open statement concerning the oppression of women in which her works’ uncanny atmosphere indeed seems derived from Munch’s uncanny experience of nature. While Edvard Munch took the threatening of man by woman, by the femme fatale, as the central theme in his series The Frieze of Life, Marlene Dumas reinterprets this iconography in images that portray the colonial and racist oppression of Africa’s black population. At the same time, her fascination with the Norwegian artist’s love of coloristic experimentation equals that of Peter Doig.

Marlene Dumas

Marlene Dumas takes a deep dive into fundamental questions of human experience, placing themes such as love, identity, death, and mourning at the center of her work, thereby effecting a direct continuation of Munch’s substantive emphases. For the South African artist Marlene Dumas, Munch's pessimistic view of the world is not only the basis for individual fate, but a symbol for the oppression of mankind itself, for the conflict between man and woman, between blacks and whites. With her existential themes, Dumas' content connects very directly with Munch's emotionally charged depictions.

Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin’s paintings and multimedia works, on the other hand, are characterized by traumatic personal experiences and take up the autobiographical character of Munch’s output. Like Munch, the Englishwoman expresses a strong personal component in her artmaking. For her, Edvard Munch is the exemplary artist par excellence who has given expression to the psychological decay of modern man.

Peter Doig

Peter Doig also views the materiality of Munch’s paintings, along with the iconography of human beings’ alienation from themselves, as an important point of reference in the Norwegian artists oeuvre. Following Munch's epochal pictorial worlds, he explores the question of the location of the individual in the modern world. Alongside pessimism and the growing theme of being alone in the world, it is Munch's love of experimentation that interests painters like Peter Doig in the Norwegian's work.

This presentation picks up where the ALBERTINA Museum’s record-breaking Munch exhibitions of 2003 and 2015 left off and is being supported by the Munch Museet in Oslo as well as by numerous other international institutions and private collections. The works were selected together with the living artists.

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