TACOMA, WASH. (April 6, 2016)- Travel from the shores of Puget Sound to the fjords of Norway with the exhibition Edvard Munch and the Sea, on view exclusively at Tacoma Art Museum April 9 through July 17, 2016. This is your opportunity to dive deep into Munch’s powerful works, rarely exhibited in the Pacific Northwest, with 26 of his exceptional prints and a key painting.
TAM has brought these dynamic works to Tacoma from major institutions across the country, including the National Gallery of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, deYoung Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and from private collectors.
“While he’s best known for his iconic work The Scream, Munch explored a host of other subjects. This exhibition focuses on the sea as a profound element in his work. He used the sea as the subject of landscapes, as a backdrop for human interactions, and as a metaphor for love, longing, grief, joy, and other big human emotions,” shared Margaret Bullock, Curator of Collections and Special Exhibitions. He sought to live and work by the sea, often painting outdoors in the Norwegian landscape. Munch would likely have felt at home on Puget Sound.
This exhibition honors Pacific Lutheran University’s 125th anniversary and Norwegian heritage. “The university reached out to TAM as a fellow cultural cornerstone in our community to open conversations about marking this significant moment in PLU’s history. In celebration of the university’s contributions to the arts in our region, and honoring our founding Norwegian pioneers, we were interested in working with TAM to engage people with the rich artistic history of Norway,” explained Tom Krise, PLU’s president.
The Honorary Norwegian Consul Kim Nesselquist connected TAM’s curators with art collector Sally Epstein, who has amassed the largest private Munch print collection outside of the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway. A core group of the prints in the exhibition are from her collection. Epstein’s persistent interest in Munch took her to his homeland multiple times as she sought to learn more about the artist and his work. A fascinating person in her own right, Epstein has lectured on Munch at the National Gallery and other institutions. Hear directly from her during a Collector’s Conversation at TAM on Sunday, April 10, 2 pm, as she shares stories about her expeditions into the landscapes and history of this complex and influential artist.
A leading artist of the expressionist and symbolist movements, Munch often used the sea to convey emotions and moods. His depictions of women are complex as well, revealing his experiences with relationships, loss and grief in scenes played out on rocky shores and sinuous coastlines.
“Munch was a person who experienced life intensely, who felt deeply, and his images reflect that. These are very strong images with many layers of meaning,” Bullock elaborated. “Neutralia for example isn’t just two women happily picking apples in the springtime. It is about joy in nature, but it is more importantly a political statement. There is a boat in the background being overwhelmed by waves, a ship going down, which represents Europe. He’s telling us that he was not happy that Norway remained neutral in World War I, going on with daily life, while the rest of Europe was struggling.”
In 2012, Munch’s famous 1895 pastel The Scream became the world’s most expensive work of art ever auctioned (at the time) at Sotheby’s. Although The Scream won’t be on view, the print Angst features the same setting – the Åsgårdstrand pier at sunset – and mask-like fraught faces. Both images are raw expressions of Munch’s lifelong battles with anxiety and loneliness. Several other prints in the exhibition include elements of The Scream, as Munch liked to work and rework the same motifs. TAM has also arranged to have on view Andy Warhol’s 1984 screenprint tribute The Scream (after Munch).
Munch was a master printmaker, advancing new techniques and mastering all aspects of his craft. TAM has highlighted the Northwest’s passion for printmaking in numerous exhibitions (recall 2014’s positively-received Ink This!), and the Munch exhibition continues the museum’s interest in exploring the artistry of printwork. By his own estimations, the prolific Munch created some 30,000 impressions of his prints. This exhibition reflects the vast influences of Edvard Munch on printmakers and artists today.
Edvard Munch and the Sea kicks off with a Members’ Opening party on the evening of April 9, followed by the Collector’s Conversation with Sally Epstein and TAM’s executive director Stephanie Stebich on April 10. Related events include a hands-on printmaking workshop with PLU arts instructor and designated master printer Craig Cornwall, a sketching workshop led by artist Darsie Beck, an Educator’s Evening at TAM, an I-Scream social, a coloring contest, and additional activities at the PLU campus. Check www.TacomaArtMuseum.org for more information.