From September 21, 2011 to January 9, 2012 – Centre Pompidou Paris
Edvard Munch was entirely “modern”: such is the argument of this exhibition of almost 140 of his works. Including some 60 paintings, 30 works on paper and 50 vintage photographs, as well as a number of films and one of the artist’s very rare sculptures, “Edvard Munch, l’oeil moderne” throws new light on the work of this celebrated Norwegian painter (1863-1944) by showing how his interest in all the forms of representation of his time nourished his inspiration and profoundly shaped his art. His experience of photography and film, his reading of the illustrated press and his work in the theatre all fed into his work, endowing it with the utter modernity that this exhibition seeks to reveal.
Contrary to the received opinion that sees in Munch a nineteenth-century artist, tormented and reclusive, the exhibition shows that he was aware of the aesthetic debates of his time, engaged in a constant dialogue with the most contemporary forms of representation – photography, film and theatre. He took photographs and shot films himself, being perhaps the first to essay a selfportrait using a camera held in his outstretched hand: “I have learnt a great deal from photography. I have an old camera with which I have taken countless pictures of myself, often with amazing results. One day, when I am old and have nothing better to do than to write my autobiography, all my self-portraits will see the light of day again” (Edvard Munch, interviewed by Hans Tørsleff, 1930). Displayed in twelve rooms and organised around nine themes the exhibition presents an uncommonly rich and comprehensive selection of major paintings and works on paper, alongside Munch’s own experiments with photography and film, looking at the artist’s habit of returning to the same motifs, and showing how his experience of cinema and of the illustrated press, and his own work for the new, intimate “chamber drama” produced a new spatial relationship between the viewer and the pictorial motif presented in close-up. The impact of these modern images, underlined by Munch’s own experiments in photography and film, can also be seen in his use of effects of transparency, forms of energy and modes of narrative specific to these new media.
The exhibition has been organised in close collaboration with the Munch Museum in Oslo. Most of the works come from there, though some have been loaned by the National Museum, Oslo, the Bergen Museum of Art and other collections abroad. It is accompanied by a substantial catalogue, to be published by Editions Centre Pompidou, with more than a dozen essays by Munch specialists from across the world, as well as other original research and French translations of unpublished texts by the artist. Curated by Angela Lampe and Clément Chéroux, curators at the Centre Pompidou, the exhibition “Edvard Munch, l’oeil moderne” will close on 9 January 2012, to move on to the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (9 February – 13 May 2012) and then to Tate Modern, London (28 June – 12 October 2012).