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I'm an arts journalist & PR consultant living and working in Scotland. I've been a journalist for more than 25 years. I write a regular column for Scottish quality newspaper, The Herald. I deliver a PR service with an arty bent and work on a consultancy basis with arts organisations, including Scotland's leading creative industries festival, XpoNorth & broadcast support body, ScreenHI. I am currently co-writing a book about the celebrated Scots artist, George Wyllie, with his daughter Louise. Instrumental in making a celebration of his life's work happen in 2012. For more information, see www.georgewyllie.com When I'm not being a mum/working, I talk to my dog. He laps it up. Contact me on janpatience@me.com (All work © Jan Patience)

Monday, 2 April 2012

Munch @ Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

This is an unedited version of a piece I wrote for the galleries section of The Herald on 31/3/12
I can't wait to see it. 

Edvard Munch: Graphic Works from The Gundersen Collection
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Two
73 Belford Road, Edinburgh 
0131 624 6200
From April 7 - September 23 (Admission £7/£5)
He may be forever associated with an angst-ridden image which adorns many a piece of merchandising in art gallery shops throughout the world, but as a new exhibition is about to reveal, there is so much more to Edvard Munch than The Scream.

Edvard Munch: Graphic Works from The Gundersen Collection, goes on display at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh from next Saturday and its presence here in Scotland is something of a coup for our national gallery.

This private collection of lithographs and woodcuts by celebrated the celebrated Norwegian artist, who lived from 1863-1944, is being shown for the first time in the UK after being on display in Caen, Normandy and Bergen, Norway. After its Edinburgh run, the exhibition travels to Denmark.

Munch made several different versions of The Scream, which was part of a series The Frieze of Life, in which he explored the themes of love, fear, death, melancholia, and anxiety. Included in his Scream portfolio were two hand-coloured versions. One is held in the Munch Museum, Oslo, while the other is in the Gundersen Collection and will be on show from next weekend here in Scotland.

Senior curator Lucy Askew, who overseeing the installation of the exhibition this week, cannot contain her excitement at the arrival of this new show in Scotland. “I went to see it in Caen, when it was on show there and met Mr Gundersen, who is passionate about making this collection available to people around the world.

“This exhibition shows Munch’s extraordinarily innovative approach. Printmaking is an integral part of the way he works and he made multiple variations of images. He knew that a different approach to an image could change its emotive impact. For Munch, printmaking was as much about getting his work seen as being a commercial decision.”

Norwegian businessman, Pål Georg Gundersen, who has made his money in property, has been collecting Munch’s work since 1990, when he acquired a print of The Sick Child.

“When you are born in Norway, you meet Edvard Munch early in life, at school,” he explains. “My interest for him as an artist came in the 1980s, when I was beginning to buy and collect art.”

Several impressions of this print are included in this show in Edinburgh. Gundersen’s collection comes from specific period in Munch’s career, particularly surrounding his Frieze of Life imagery from 1895-1902.

Gundersen explains: “I have collected prints from what I feel are Munch’s golden years: 1895 – 1902. In this period he produced all his important works, including the complete Frieze of Life; in my opinion The Frieze of Life tells you everything important about Edvard Munch and his work.”

By focusing on prints, the Gundersen collection introduces the intensity and directness of Munch’s work, providing an insight into his pioneering exploration of universal concerns that made him one of the most influential artists of his day.

Through multiple versions of many of the images, the exhibition investigates Munch’s experimentation as he revisited and reworked subjects to heighten their emotive impact and to explore colour, texture and techniques. This collection shows the working processes behind some of the best-known images of the late 19th and early 20th century. Visitors will be able to compare three different versions of Munch’s Madonna series, made between 1895 and 1902, and five examples of Vampire II (first known as Pain and Love) from 1895.

Munch was born in Norway in 1863. His father, Christian, was a doctor who married Laura Bjølstad, a family friend’s maid when he was 44 and she was 23. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was just five years old. He and his siblings were raised by their mother’s younger sister, but tragedy struck again, when his older sister, Johanne Sophie, died of tuberculosis in 1877. He was 14. She was 16.

Throughout his long career, the artist explored many themes, including the symbolic power of female sexuality. Many of the artist’s most poignant and arresting pieces are the prints he made throughout a long career, and these works express both Munch’s technical mastery and artistic vision. 

Printmaking appealed to Munch for the opportunity they gave in disseminating his images to a wider public, and he was innovative in the different processes and methods that he employed to create such works. 

As well as frequently printing his own subjects, Munch worked with master printers in Paris and Berlin, where he spent much of his time over the turn of the 20th century and where his work was regularly exhibited.

This exhibition is supplemented with additional prints by Munch which are held on long-term loan by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art from two further private collectors. It will also feature a special display focusing on the legacy of the artist’s first solo exhibition in the UK, staged in Edinburgh by the Scottish Society of Artists in 1931, that will explore how Munch’s work has been experienced and received in Scotland. 

Works by other artists from the Gallery’s permanent collection will be shown on the ground floor at Modern Two, in displays introducing the European context in which Munch was active and highly influential, particularly in the realms of Symbolism and Expressionism.

Edvard Munch, Madonna − Courtesy the Gundersen Collection,© The Munch Museum, The Munch – Ellingsen Group, BONO, Oslo, DACS, London 2012

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