Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Edvard Munch at Tate Modern

I don't care for Tate Modern all that much: with the crowds charging along the corridors it feels to me like an airport without aeroplanes. It seems to make plenty of other people happy and perhaps some of them, or most of them, find the metaphorical flights that I miss.
This summer Tate Modern hosts an exhibition of Edvard Munch's 20th Century Paintings (minus any versions of The Scream). One of the best exhibitions I have ever been to was a show of Munch at the National Gallery in 1995 (or thereabouts). It was one of the most emotionally charged spaces I have ever encountered.
Press reviews (all written by men) had taken a patronising tone to Munch's view of women, yet it was the women visitors who seemed to me to respond the most deeply to Munch's paintings. I remember one young woman seated on a bench lost in a contemplation of The Dance of Life. She was there when I arrived and still there when I left.
I doubt Tate Modern will allow much time or space for such contemplation, but that's always the problem with popularity and nobody's fault. Tate Modern's zeal for curation requires a theme and the one that has been chosen is Munch and The Modern Eye: how Munch was influenced by photography and cinema. So the results Munch's experiments with cameras are included (they are not very successful according to Adrian Searle in The Guardian). A comparison is made with Warhol because both he and Munch returned to the same images repeatedly. (But Warhol was a screenprinter, so he had to produce the same images again and again, that is the point of seriography.) Comparisons with Bonnard and Vuillard's photography are also made. Apparently nobody has thought to make a comparison with Walter Sickert for his interest in photography and mass media, or indeed true crime.

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