New Museum Show Features Edvard Munch

By Rosanne Pellegrini
Staff Writer

An exhibition opening next month at the McMullen Museum of Art will offer a new perspective on Edvard Munch, whose haunting 1893 work "The Scream" became an iconic image of anxiety in the modern world and made him one of the most recognized artists in the world.

A lithograph version of "The Scream" will be one of 83 works by legendary Norwegian painter Edvard Munch on display at the next McMullen Museum of Art exhibition, which opens to the public on Feb. 5.
From Feb. 5 through May 21, the museum will host "Edvard Munch: Psyche, Symbol and Expression," featuring 83 examples of Munch's paintings and prints from private and public collections, including works from a distinguished collection which have been displayed publicly only once.

On Sunday, Feb. 4, the museum will hold a special "Preview Day" of the exhibition from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. for BC faculty, staff, students, alumni and their families. At 1:30 p.m., chief exhibition curator Assoc. Prof. Jeffery Howe (Fine Arts) will present a lecture in Devlin 008.

In presenting the works of this great Norwegian painter, organizers said, the exhibition will take an innovative and interdisciplinary approach to the study of the style, subject matter and interpretations of Munch's art in modern European culture.

"The McMullen Museum welcomes the opportunity to show to the American public works of extraordinary quality, rarely, if ever, seen on public display in North America," said McMullen Museum Director Nancy Netzer.

"Focusing on several key themes that dominated the intellectual and cultural life of Northern Europe at the end of the nineteenth and first half of the 20th century," Netzer said, "'Psyche, Symbol and Expression' will be the most comprehensive exhibition of Munch's work in America since the 1978 show at the National Gallery in Washington, DC.

"It will also be the most broadly interdisciplinary view of Munch's work ever attempted in an exhibition of such a large scale."

The exhibition will be organized into groups of images based on Munch's primary themes, among them "Boundaries of the Self," "Flower of Love: Men and Women," "Nature, Mysticism and Religion" and "Figures in the Void: Portraits." In addition to a lithograph version of "The Scream," the museum will feature other well-known Munch works such as "Self-Portrait in Hell," "Hands," "Starry Night from Oslo" and " Encounter in Space." It also will include a painting recently discovered in the wall of Munch's studio and never before displayed publicly.

Exhibition organizers describe Munch as a highly productive artist who, in his six decades of work, became a major portraitist and landscape artist as well as a compelling explorer of human passions, including universal themes of love, death and spirituality.

In the aftermath of Impressionism, organizers say, Munch was one of the most important artists to make his personal emotions and spiritual longings the focus of his art. Deeply ambitious, he sought to express the fundamental themes of life in the modern world, and to portray them in an authentic, powerful style, laying the groundwork for modern Expressionism.

"Edvard Munch is popular because his art is so truthful," said Howe. "He focused his art on the life and death issues that concern us all, and rendered the critical moments of life in all their beauty and pain."

Previous treatments of Munch have seldom recognized the religious significance of Munch's works, exhibition organizers add, but he himself insisted that, "In all my work people will see that I am a doubter, but I never deny or mock religion." Organizers say his works are sincere representations of his personal attempt to understand the sacred quality of life and the fundamental mystery of existence.

An accompanying exhibition catalogue, edited by Howe and containing essays by BC scholars, will explore the meanings of Munch's imagery, his sources in Symbolist art and his legacy for German Expressionism in the context of contemporaneous developments in psychology, literature and philosophy.

Also complementing the Munch show will be an Internet exhibition and a slate of educational programs including gallery talks, concerts, films and lectures.

The museum will be open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call ext.2-8100, or visit the museum World Wide Web site at


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