The exhibit Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed, named after one of his last paintings, is showing at the Met Breuer (pronounced BROY-er) until February 4, 2018. The Met Breuer is the third, smaller location of the Metropolitan Museum of Art which opened in March 2016 on Madison Ave at 75th and which houses the extended Modern Arts collection. If you are planning a visit to the much visited Metropolitan Museum of Art on 5th Ave, the Met Breuer is a short walk away and your ticket will get you in to all three locations (The Met, Met-Breuer and Met Cloisters) on the same day.
Walking into the Met-Breuer, I knew little of Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944) beyond the modern art masterpiece The Scream. I left the museum understanding the history of not only the painting, but also with an appreciation for the life and works of this artist who could depict a range of human emotions from fear, anxiety and loneliness to love and passion.
Although he lived most of his life in Norway, Munch also resided in France, Germany and Copenhagen. His early life was filled with tragedy as both his mother and his favourite sister Sophie died of tuberculosis, and for years he revisited this theme by painting deathbed scenes of young girls in memory of his sister. Later, one of his tumultuous romantic relationships ended with a struggle where he shot his own hand, which he then included in the painting La Mort de Marat. Munch was never married and referred to his paintings as his children.
Munch based The Scream on a memory he had of Norway, while living in Nice. In January 1892, Munch wrote in his journal: “I was walking along the road with two friends. The sun set. I felt a tinge of melancholy. Suddenly the sky became a bloody red. I stopped, leaned against the railing, dead tired and I looked at the flaming clouds that hung like blood and a sword over the blue-black fjord and city. My friends walked on, I stood there trembling with fright. And I felt a loud, unending scream piercing nature.” Two prequels to The Scream exist- the Sick Mood at Sunset: Despair (1892), and Despair (1894), which are both on display along with an early black and white version of The Scream.
The exhibit at the Met Breuer includes 43 original works by Munch, including several from his private collection on loan from the Munch museum. There are 16 self-portraits and seven works which have never before been shown in the United States. Below you will find a further preview, but be sure to visit the museum before February 4, 2018 to see it for yourself.
In The Kiss, Munch depicts a passionate kiss where the woman and man are locked in an embrace where it is impossible to see where one begins and the other ends.
The Storm (below) has a haunting quality.
A self-portrait of Munch as an older man, lonely, stooped over in the light of a new dawn.