Thursday, October 24, 2013

Edvard Munch on a good day

Everyone knows what to expect from the Norwegian Expressionist, Edvard Munch. As he himself put it,  "Sickness, insanity and death were the angels that surrounded my cradle, and they have followed me throughout my life." His most famous painting, The Scream, brilliantly expresses the sense of anxiety and instability that tormented him. Until now, I had only had one print by Munch, a Norwegian landscape that trembles with neurasthenia. It was the first piece of art he created after his devastating mental breakdown in 1908.

Edvard Munch Landschaft (Norwegian landscape)
Drypoint, 1908
Ref: Woll, Edvard Munch: The Complete Graphic Works, 298 state ii/iii

But now I have a second Munch print, another drypoint, that emanates happiness and friendship, and a simple pleasure in life. The two couldn't be more different. It's a 1905 portrait of Erdmuter Luchsinger, the daughter of his friend Herbert Esche, then aged around three. I expect her smiling face cheered Munch up, at least for a while, and his record of it has the same effect on me.

Edvard Munch, Kinderkopf (Herbert Esches datter)
Drypoint, 1905
Ref: Woll, Edvard Munch, the Complete Graphic Works, 261b


Atelier Conti said...

Congratulations on your new acquisition! The little girl is charming. It's nice to think that Munch had a few good days.

Jane Librizzi said...

Interesting that you pair such a dour quote with a charming, straightforward image. The angst may have been genuine but that doesn't preclude happiness at other moments. Possibly, Munch found it useful to burnish his image as a tormented artist. He wouldn't be the first or last to give the public what it seemed to want.

Neil said...

I think my view of Munch as the epitome of Nordic gloom is very influenced by a film made about him in 1976 by Peter Watkins - over two hours long and so far as I can remember nobody so much as smiles! I'd be interested to see it again - he's an important filmmaker who's been rather sidelined. His first film Culloden portrayed the Jacobite uprising as if it were the Vietnam War; I remember being very impressed by that.