The exhibition of works by the world-famous Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863–1944), one of the founders of expressionism, widely presents his works for the first time in Russia: the exposition includes a significant number of paintings and graphic works, author photos and memorial objects from the Munch Museum in Oslo, that houses the largest collection of the master’s heritage. In addition to the most anticipated oeuvre – the earliest graphic version (1893) of the famous painting “The Scream” the exhibition includes works from all major cycles and series of the artist which he continued to upgrade over the years. Among them are “The Dance of Life”, “The Kiss”, “Madonna”, “The Girls on the Bridge”, “Vampire”, “Puberty” and others.
This exhibition is the result of international exchange between museums: in February 2019, “The Swan Princess” exhibition that includes works of the late XIX – early XX century from the collection of the Tretyakov Gallery opened in the Munch Museum in Oslo. In prospect, other exhibitions from the Gallery's collection will also be displayed there – Russian avant-garde and works of Russian artists of the second half of the XX – early XXI centuries. For the Tretyakov Gallery Edvard Munch’s retrospective is the first stage of a long-term “Scandinavian project”, which will include exhibitions of artists from Sweden and Finland. The display of famous North European painters’ works expands the perception of the Russian culture context and allows to trace the connections and parallels between Russian and Western European art.
Despite the fact that Munch’s heritage is very extensive, his works are hardly represented in Russian museum collections. The exceptions are one painting and one graphic work from the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, which are included into this exhibition. This museum housed exhibitions of Edvard Munch’s engravings in 1960 and 1977; and an exhibition of paintings and graphics from the collections of Norwegian museums was held at the State Hermitage Museum in 1982. Since then there was no opportunity to get acquainted with the master’s heritage in Russia. The exhibition at the Tretyakov Gallery is the first display of the oeuvres of this outstanding Norwegian artist for the modern audience.
Edvard Munch was born in the family of a military doctor. Рenchant for drawing that appeared early did not find support from his father, he had to make his choice of the artist’s path, overcoming resistance. Munch received a classical art education while studying at the Royal School of Art and Design in Kristiania (now Oslo). Munch quickly got recognition – at the age of 25 he was honored to open a solo exhibition in the capital. Childhood traumas (at the age of 5 he lost his mother, and at 15 – his beloved elder sister), sensitive mind, immersion into the life of boheme in Kristiania and Berlin, passion for mysticism and occultism, modern literature – all this determined the artist’s tragic worldview, influenced the formation of complex and contradictory descriptive structure of his works. Having passed the stages of academic art, impressionism, pointillism, creation of symbolist works, Munch developed his own plastic language, which became the forerunner of expressionism in European painting. Being laconic and expressive, it allowed to create shrilly artistic “formulas” of fear, jealousy, loneliness, maturity, love, which became symbolic images of European art. Munch managed to reflect in his works the spiritual state of man on the eve and after the First World War, he anticipated a lot of major themes, tragic moods and discoveries in the field of painting which characterize the art of the XX century.
The aim of the Moscow exhibition is to open to the viewer the depth, ambiguity and diversity of the artist’s works; to show that Munch is not only the creator of the cult painting “The Scream”, but also has a significant number of oeuvres that determined the most important trends in art; to give a wide chronological coverage of his heritage, including late works. The cross-cutting theme of the exhibition is the influence of Fyodor Dostoevsky on the formation of the artist’s worldview and figurative thinking. Dostoevsky and Ibsen were Munch's favorite writers. The exhibition will display books by the Russian writer as well as monographs about him from Munch’s personal library.
The exposition is located on two floors of the Engineering Building, and includes several sections, which are grouped thematically, by Munch's genres and types of creativity: “Landscape”, “Artist and Model”, “Portrait”, “Self-Portrait”, “Graphics”, “Photography”. The center of the exposition, which is the largest section of the exhibition,is the series of paintings “The Frieze of Life”. It combines key works of the master: “The Scream”, “The Dance of Life”, “Vampire”, “The Kiss”, “Ashes”, “Metabolism. Life and death” and others. The artist called this cycle “a poem about life, love and death” and worked on it for over 30 years. Munch wrote that “«The Frieze» had been conceived as a series of decorative pictures that together are to give an image of life”. Interpretation of these oeuvres is connected not only to tragic peripetias of the artist’s life, but also to search for hidden symbols, allegories, direct and veiled quotations from pieces of world art and literature.
A significant role in carrying out the exhibition project at the Tretyakov Gallery belongs to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway in Moscow. An international educational program under the patronage of the Embassy was prepared specially for the exhibition; it will help to understand better the inner world of the artist and his closest environment. The program includes lectures on the life and work of Edvard Munch, influence of literature and philosophy on his art, presentations of books and film screenings. The participants are historians of art, writers, publishers, translators and artists from Russia, Norway and Georgia.
The IV International Chamber Music Festival VIVARTE, which will be held in the Vrubel Hall of the Tretyakov Gallery from May 26 to June 2, 2019, this time is dedicated to the exhibition of Edvard Munch and Russia – Scandinavia relations in arts. Famous Norwegian and Danish musicians, rare guests on the Russian academic stage will take part in the festival. Detailed information about the educational program and the festival is available on the Gallery website (links).
Press screening will be held April 15, 2019 at 14:00
Press show for TV groups — at 17:00
The exhibition is open from April 17 to July 14, 2019
Lavrushinsky Lane, 12, Engineering Building
Exhibited works: over 120 objects, including 64 paintings, 37 graphic works, 14 photographs, memorial objects and documents
Collection: The Munch Museum in Oslo, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, The State Tretyakov Gallery
Assistant Curators: Nadezhda Musyankova, Nina Markova, Nikita YerofeyevExpositiondesign:Sergey Choban, Agniya Sterligova
Edvard Munchs kunst er Norges viktigste bidrag til verdens kunsthistorie. Som forvalter av majoriteten av Munchs arbeider, har Munchmuseet et unikt utgangspunkt som kunst- og kulturformidler i nasjonal og internasjonal sammenheng. Munchmuseet inkluderer også Stenersen-samlingen.
Museets oppgave er å forvalte samlingene gjennom bevaring, forskning og formidling.