Munch and the sea
An exclusive exhibit at Tacoma Art Museum explores the sea as motif in Munch’s art
Linn Chloe Hagstrøm
Norwegian American Weekly
Many art pieces by renowned Norwegian artist and master printmaker Edvard Munch have arrived in Tacoma, Wash.
Visit Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) and travel from Puget Sound to the fjords of Norway through the new exhibit Edvard Munch and the Sea, which offers a focused exploration of the sea as a recurring motif in Munch’s life and art. Explore the powerful works of Edvard Munch, which are rarely exhibited in the Pacific Northwest, with 26 of his exceptional prints and a key painting.
Edvard Munch was born in Norway in 1863 and was raised in Christiania, today known as Oslo. He is well known for his study of universal human experiences and for capturing human emotions in his paintings and lithographs. Munch used the sea as a backdrop for interactions between people and as the subject of landscapes, but also as a metaphor for longing, grief, love, joy, and other human emotions.
Most of his art falls within the style of Symbolism, as his paintings have been focused on the internal view of the objects in contrast to the exterior. In painting, Symbolism represents a synthesis of form and feeling, of reality, and the artist’s subjectivity. This exhibition focuses on the sea, allowing viewers to dive into Munch’s personal relationship with it and explore its symbolism.
One of his famous pieces, often titled “Madonna” (1902), exists in multiple variations and two of them are on view in TAM. “Madonna” was one of the first lithographs he created and with this he started experimenting with adding color to his prints. In this image, we are presented with a radiant woman surrounded by waves linking the ocean to the human experience. In the two lithographs at TAM, sperm are swimming around the border of the lithograph and there is a corpse in the bottom left corner, which together form a cycle of life.
TAM has brought Munch’s dynamic art pieces to Tacoma from major institutions across the Unites States, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, deYoung Museum, and from private collectors.
This exhibition is organized in conjunction with the 125th anniversary of the founding of Pacific Lutheran University, celebrating its 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.
Edvard Munch and the Sea is supported by Propel Insurance, Nordstrom, ArtsFund, and PLU. This rare exhibition is on view exclusively at TAM through July 17, 2016.
This article originally appeared in the May 20, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.