January 17, 2014

Edvard Munch: Symbolism in Print at Princeton University Art Museum

Edvard Munch: Symbolism in Print, Masterworks from the Museum of Modern Art, New York
Princeton University Art Museum
February 8 - June 8, 2014

Revered as one of the most emotionally powerful painters in modern art, Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863–1944) is also considered among the greatest printmakers of the modern period. Edvard Munch: Symbolism in Print, Masterworks from the Museum of Modern Art, New York traces the artist’s process of translating his personal meditations on the anxieties of life, sexuality, and death into graphic form in arresting etchings, lithographs, and woodcuts, often experimenting with the same image in more than one technique. The exhibition includes twenty-six Edvard Munch’s signature prints.

“The repercussions of Munch’s achievement—his incisive commentary on the psychological tolls of modern life—continue to be felt throughout visual art and culture,” said Museum Director James Steward. “This exhibition reminds us that it is in his prints that we may find most forcefully the raw, unfiltered emotion of his images.”

A poetic visionary and master of the idiom, Edvard Munch was influenced by the emotional insights of Vincent van Gogh as well as the vibrant color and symbolic forms of Paul Gauguin, whose Tahitian woodcuts provided inspiration for Munch’s innovative development as a printmaker. Yet while Gauguin’s woodcuts evoked an imagined Polynesian idyll, Munch turned his prophetic vision inward, capturing what he perceived to be universal experiences of modern life and often drawing from personal memories of his often tragic past. In this way, Munch might incarnate better than any other artist the tenets of Symbolism, a movement that argued that art must reject rational naturalism and move beyond physical reality to embrace the imagination, dreams, and freedom from artistic convention. Best known for his painting The Scream (1893), seen by many as the perfect embodiment of modern-day psychic distress, Munch was in turn instrumental to the development of early twentieth-century European Expressionism. His vividly haunting images have resonated for more than a century, growing more relevant to contemporary sensibilities.

Edvard Munch: Symbolism in Print is organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, by Chief Curator Emerta Deborah Wey and Starr Figura, The Phyllis Ann and Walter Borten Associate Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books. The exhibition is curated at Princeton by Calvin Brown, Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Princeton University Art Museum.

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY ART MUSEUM
Princeton, NJ 08544
artmuseum.princeton.edu

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