Intermezzo - What I saw

As we wrap up the exhibition Jorn + Munch and prepare for the grand opening of our next one, Emma and Edvard – Love in the Time of Loneliness (28.1-17.4), we seize the occasion to display a small selection of well-known Munch paintings. We have named the first Intermezzo- show of the season What I saw.

These ten paintings encompass several existential themes that Munch often touches upon: Sorrow, anxiety, longing, love and death.

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Edvard Munch (1863–1944) is known as one of the precursors of Expressionism. He is a transitional figure with roots in Naturalism and Symbolism, who later sought inspiration from both the French Fauvists and the German Expressionists.

Like other painters of the Symbolist generation, Munch was preoccupied by trying to summarise an essence of human existence in his work. Motifs that often have their starting point in his own experiences, like the death of his sister Sophie (The Sick Child), or in something that he has witnessed, like the broken heart of his friend Jappe (Melancholy), become – through striking compositions and a simplifyed manner of painting – iconic images dealing with universal topics.

Memories turn into visions. As Munch himself wrote:   

Art is the opposite of Nature. I do not paint from nature – I take from it – or help myself from its bountiful platter. I do not paint what I see – but what I saw. –“

Sometimes Munch is allegorical, like in his rendering of the stages of womanhood from youth until old age.

Some of the figures in the paintings confront us frontally, others look sideways. A beach, a bed or a landscape beneath a starry sky form the stages where the action takes place.

The two works to the far right, the self-portrait and the winter landscape, were painted by Munch late in his life.

On the other walls you will see drafts for Munch’s decorations in the University of Oslo’s ceremonial hall. Rather than the joys and sorrows of human life,   here he has emphasised “the great and eternal forces”. 

Free entrance

The Munch Museum was built in 1963 and is a small institution and have limited space with one exhibition center. Unfortunately we do not have space to exhibit more of the collection when we change main exhibitions.