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Edvard Munch's lithographs, paintings in Seoul reveal deep emotions

May 21, 2024 - 20:11 By Park Yuna
An installation view of "Edvard Munch: Beyond the Scream” at the Seoul Arts Center (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

Norwegian painter Edvard Munch is one of the most acclaimed artists in modern art history – his popularly known painting “The Scream” reveals the abyss of a human’s emotions. Many of his works reveal death, loneliness, desperation and love, which the artist explored his whole life.

"The Scream" by Edvard Munch, hand-colored lithograph from 1895 (Reitan Family Collection, Trondheim, Norway)

Some 140 works by Edvard Munch are on show at the exhibition titled “Edvard Munch: Beyond the Scream” which opens at the Seoul Arts Center on Wednesday, including the lithograph of “The Scream” hand colored by the artist in 1895.

The lithograph is one of two hand-colored lithographs of “The Scream” and is on loan from a private collector. The other is at the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway, according to Dieter Buchhart who curated the exhibition. The works on display were brought together from 23 private collectors and institutes including the Munch Museum.

In the artist’s diary of 1892, Munch mentioned his emotions of chaos and desperation in the painting “The Scream.”

“I was walking down the road with two friends when the sun set; suddenly the sky turned as red as blood. I stopped and leaned against the fence, feeling unspeakably tired. Tongues of fire and blood stretched over the bluish-black fjord. My friends went on walking while I lagged behind, shivering with fear. Then I heard the enormous, infinite scream of nature,” the artist wrote.

Munch’s graphic works comprise more than 750 subjects in etchings, lithographs and woodcuts – presumably up to 30,000 prints, according to the exhibition organizer.

Divided into 14 sections, the exhibition follows the artist’s path beginning with “First Years in Kristiania: Munch’s Early Encounter with Naturalism, Impressionism and Symbolism.” Upon entering the exhibition, Munch’s oil painting “Self-Portrait” from his early career collected by the Munch Museum is on display.

The oil paintings “The Kiss” from 1892 and 1921, “Night in Saint-Cloud,” “Rugged Trunks in Snow" and “Kneeling Female Nude” present the artist’s unique smooth long brush strokes.

“When you see the radicality of the painting technique of Munch, this could have been painted yesterday, not like more than 100 years ago,” said Buchhart during a press tour of the exhibition Tuesday.

"The Kiss" by Edvard Munch from 1921 (Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, Houston)

Munch was confronted with sickness, death and mourning from his early childhood days. His mother died from tuberculosis at the age of 30 following the birth of his sister Inger. Munch himself fell ill with the illness when he turned 13 and his sister Sophie died in the following year. Born in 1863, the artist lived through World War I and World War II. He died at the age of 80.

The exhibition is jointly organized by the Seoul Arts Center, KBS Media and The Seoul Shinmun that marks its 120 anniversary this year. The exhibition runs through Sept.19.