Edvard Munch at the Tate
As canonical as artists go, Edvard Munch, and particularly his The Scream pastel, have reached infamy status through the artefact’s tenuous history. Notorious is how The Scream would be described, more due to its shifty history of bandits, heists, and ransoms than of anything to do with the wonderful work of Munch. When The Scream recently sold for a record $120m (£74m) at Sotheby’s in New York it reached new heights of ballyhoo as the world’s most expensive artwork to be sold at auction.
With Munch in the spotlight it was not to be long until a retrospective of his life’s work was to be unveiled à la Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, and Francis Bacon. When one of the great artists of our era shows their work as a whole body, The Tate is the only obvious choice for the outstanding display. Munch’s almost careless style displays an innocence and naïvety which is a stark and interesting contrast to the contents of much of his work which is generally of a morbid nature. Murder on the Road, depicting a man fleeing from the scene of an imagined crime, offers a perfect example of this melded style where slapdash paint board style meets an adult theme.
In his painting The Sun, which he created around 1912 when he was invited to exhibit at the Sonderbund along with Van Gogh, Cézanne and Gauguin, where there’s a conception that all should be bright, and sunny and well, there is still a morose feeling of gloom in the mountains that the rays fall between. It is, perhaps, telling of Munch as a person that even in his own self-portrait he portrayed himself in a time when he was illness-riddled, weak, and low on strength; almost as if he revelled then in dire circumstances of Spanish Influenza which almost took his life.
What marks this current exhibition as a successful retrospective is the inclusion on Munch’s photograph and film footage that he shot, though it must be said that the creative eye behind his film-based work may have been slightly askew.
Photos: Marco Arias Rua
Edvard Munch will run until 14th October 2012 at Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG. Tickets are £14.