Edvard Munch in Stuttgart

From the first kiss to death
5 July – 6 October 2013

The exhibition shows around 65 works by Edvard Munch, who is certainly the world's best-known Norwegian painter and graphic artist.

The Staatsgalerie's collection - including 25 privately owned works on permanent loan to the museum - clearly illustrates Edvard Munch's typical working method and diversity of subject matter. The close connection between biography and work, between experience and its reappraisal - this life with and almost "in" art makes Munch one of the most fascinating artistic personalities there is.

Munch and his connection to Stuttgart

Only recently discovered letters prove that Munch visited the Stuttgart Museum as early as August 1923 and maintained contact with its then director Otto Fischer thereafter. The interest in the art of the time among the museum's first directors is once again confirmed by this source. It is to their successors, who continued the collecting activities by purchasing modern art, that we owe the outstanding quality of the Staatsgalerie's collection today.

The exhibition is a shining example of this: the Staatsgalerie is in the fortunate position of being in possession of the world's only print on violet paper of the motif that has become famous as "The Scream", but which, as the lithograph proves, was titled "Scream" by the artist himself.

"I do not paint what I see, but what I saw."
Edvard Munch

With these words, Edvard Munch described his view of art, which was deeply committed to personal life. As with hardly any painter before him, feelings and states of mind dominate his pictorial themes and he succeeds in capturing the abysses of our existence. Not infrequently, death appears symbolically, as for example in "Self-Portrait (with Dead Hand)" from 1895 or as a skeleton in an embracing pose in "Death and the Woman" from 1894.

Themes such as fear, love, jealousy and despair also run repeatedly and in numerous variations through his oeuvre. The exhibition makes it clear that Munch's works repeatedly reflect personal strokes of fate, illness, depression and a constant fear of life. His preoccupation with the image of women is almost obsessive, as the opposite gender always remained enigmatic for him, sometimes even uncanny. Apart from pure portraits, women often appear in his works in the form of vampires, demons and other generally inaccessible beings, as in "Vampire II" (1895/1902), for example, one of the few prints in which the artist combined colour lithography and colour woodcut.

"I get in a good mood when I only get a copper plate in my hand. I prefer to draw on copper than on paper. The needle is also the very finest tool."
Edvard Munch

Whether in painting or graphic art, the variations in his themes were accompanied by equally diverse experiments in painting and printing techniques. In graphic art in particular, the artist was always making use of new ideas. Thus, the changeable supports such as plates, stones and woodblocks provided the basis for his numerous refinements and versions of the recurring pictorial motifs.