No "Scream" but plenty of darkness at UK Munch show

Wed Jun 27, 2012 12:07pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - How do you stage an Edvard Munch exhibition without featuring the work for which he is renowned the world over - "The Scream"?

Four versions of the haunting, swirling image exist of which three are in museums and unlikely to travel, while the fourth just sold at Sotheby's New York for $120 million, the highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction.

The Tate Modern in London believes it has the answer. In a new show dedicated to the Norwegian painter, the London gallery has chosen to focus on the whole of his career and paint a more rounded picture of the artist.

"The idea was to build an exhibition whose star lot was not missing, and we wanted to get away from that," said Nicholas Cullinan, curator of "Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye".

"Tragedy and loss and angst -- all of those words are often associated with Munch. They are true, but they are not the complete truth," he told Reuters at a preview of the show featuring around 60 paintings and 50 photographs.

In a written introduction to the show, Cullinan referred to the "clichés of Munch as an angst-ridden and brooding Nordic artist who painted scenes of isolation and trauma."

In fact, Cullinan argues, Munch was an artist interested in photography and film making - disciplines which helped shape his paintings - and engaged in current affairs when portraying street scenes or incidents reported in the media.

"It's trying to come up with a balanced and accurate portrait of Munch as an artist," he explained.   Continued...

Ruth Findlay of the Tate poses with Edvard Munch's "The Girls on the Bridge" at the Tate Modern in London's Southbank, June 26, 2012. The painting by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch forms part of the major exhibition of his paintings and drawings at the art museum. The exhibition opens on June 28 and will run until October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Winning