We love anniversary. This year is being considered the centenary of modernity, since The Waste Land and Ulysses were published in 1922. But Edvard Munch TS Elliott and James Joyce won. In 1892, Munch painted the city’s first modernist masterpiece, anticipating their radical visions of urban life by three full decades. Now that masterpiece, Evening on Karl Johan, has come to Britain as part of a prized loan from Munch incendiary from a collection in Bergen, Norway.
These people really need to work from home. They come towards us at the close of the day, their faces sad from the misery of the office or the factory. It’s a mysterious gray caricature of loneliness and sadness lit up by glowing yellow windows. A woman stares with white circles of eyes, her pupils shrinking into dots, while the man in a funeral cap has a shrunken, skull-like face, as if modern life had made him one of the walking dead. In fact, they’re all zombies in action, their bodies off, their pace is automatic, approaching into one mummified block.
This is the very alienation that Eliot would say 30 years later: “A crowd streamed over London Bridge, / I didn’t think death had resolved so much. / Sighs, short and infrequent, exhaled, / And every man fixed his eyes before his feet.” Evening in Karl Johann in the twentieth century city of lonely crowds marching hopelessly between nowhere and nothing.
If being first means being the best, then Munch deserves the title of first true modernist, making this the movement’s 130th anniversary rather than its 100th. But this is just one way to judge art. What distinguishes Munch is the originality of pain. Rough as the evening on Karl Johan, overshadowed by the painting next to him.
Next to the death bed depicts people standing over the body of a still child. Their suffering is so complete that there is nothing left of them. The woman closest to us has a mask of white, like a bandage, on her face, leaving only tiny specks of pink around her eyes. Her features were ruined by her loss. Another woman went further already, her face just a pale cartoon with dot eyes. All we see of the late is a fluffy little look under the sheets with light brown hair. But we see death in the forms of mourners dressed in black. It entered every fiber of their being. Life was stolen from them.
It was stolen from Munch when he was a kid too. This painting recalls the tragic loss of his beloved sister Sophie from tuberculosis, which actually killed his mother. Sadness how he saw life. TS hero Eliot in The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock admits that he “wasn’t Prince Hamlet” – but the young man in Munch’s Melancholy vividly resembles the tragic Scandinavian hero as he wanders on the beach, head resting on his hand a medieval symbol of grief as old as Louis Chesman. Munch’s creamy brown and violet skies over the Dead Purple Sea allow you to feel his mood for yourself.
This is why it is so special to see Munch’s paintings up close, as opposed to his prints. This show may scale modestly, with only 18 panels, but that’s a lot of Munch on canvas – and in this perfectly lit and perfectly spaced gallery you get not only a gorgeous look, but one full of emotion from the ecstatic melancholy of his colours. Munch sways admirably in his pain. All that sadness spills into his luxurious feel of paint. Among the dark green woods in his massive 1894 canvas “Woman in Three Stages” is what appears to be a great bloodstain: red paint has been thrown onto the canvas to create this dread of horror. Or at least that’s what I suppose happened. They should probably do a test to see if it’s blood.
As if an overwhelming sense of sadness weren’t enough, Art Munch unabashedly acknowledges the occurrence of huge sexual interruptions. There is a young man to the right of this work, meditating next to three pictures of women: one is dreaming on the beach, another is walking in the woods, and in the middle stands a tall, nude woman with her head held together. sexual challenge. You’d think a male Munch’s ego would be happy but he looks miserable. And in “Man and Woman,” a naked man’s head descends into despair as he sits helplessly facing his naked girlfriend. This bedroom scene is nothing if not without men. Munch clearly matches the male ego that has been crushed by a woman’s nudity to impotence. How many artists were that frank?
This exhibition shows how Munch jumped from beautiful Post-Impressionist scenes of the 1880s – including the portrait of his sister Inger beside a misty sea – to his intense abstract portraits. Vin de Cycle Exposed emotion pictures, so much so that he seems to be missing skin. The clinic’s self-portrait, painted in 1909, shows why he couldn’t continue like this. Munch’s most expressive period was bought at the expense of painful love relationships and alcoholism. In 1908, he had a breakdown and entered the “Neurology Clinic”. This painting shows him in a state of recovery: at first glance, it may seem a more formal work, as Munch adopts a respectable and serious pose, but then you realize that he is actually painting himself trying this pose, hoping with discomfort that he can maintain it. from now on. However, his jacket is a hydrophobic pattern of purple paint. Munch couldn’t forget what he saw when he looked into the bloodstained forest.