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Famous and unknown at the same time, the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch is displayed majestically at the Musée d’Orsay. The opportunity to discover the scope of the artist’s career, of which the general public only knows the iconic work: the scream. Table absent from the exhibition and for good reason.
In fact, Norway, burned by the theft of the painting in 2004, no longer lends his masterpiece. Nonetheless, the Musée d’Orsay presents an engraved version of the painting. the Scream in which a man with a gaunt face is represented who opens his mouth in the shape of an O on a background of a resplendent sky and a green and black sea, it is part of our collective imagination. But for Claire Bernardi, curator of the exhibition, the scream can be found throughout Munch’s career:” Munch himself said it in his time: there is the pre Scream, there is The Scream, there are later versions of the Scream. And so this pre Scream, for example, this despair that we show in the exhibition, all the elements of his future painting are already in germ, with this perspective along this bridge, this very present nature, this ‘Oslo fjord with this glowing, glowing sky, which seems to express the anguish of the man in the foreground. »
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Despairthis painting where deaf the precursory anguish of the Scream opens the exhibition as well as the boy sick where we see a teenage girl dying on a bed in front of her collapsed mother. Death and pain are the leitmotiv of the artist. It must be said that Munch gets hit early in life. He lost his mother and his sister early on. Anguish and melancholy are, therefore, at the heart of his work. And the woman is also very present there. But not always under the best auspices. Munch feels uncomfortable in his romantic relationships. The woman in his painting is powerful and terrifying at the same time:” The representation of women is permanent. An often ambivalent woman, the loving woman, the devouring woman as in Vampirethe woman for whom misfortune comes Jealousy where Despair. There is also this femme fatale who is often both an attractive woman, who is sometimes so ambivalent that she calls herself Madonna. So you see how the sacred and the profane come together in her work. »
► To also listen: The “Scream” by Edvard Munch, emblematic work symbol of anguish
The exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay offers a glimpse of a highly coherent 60-year career through a hundred works including 40 important paintings, drawings and prints. The tour is also marked by numerous writings by Munch that shed light on his philosophy, such as this sentence that closes the exhibition and that summarizes his thinking well and that Claire Bernardi reads: “ It is not we who die, it is the world that leaves us and abandons us. »
A whole work like a single cry. The exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay reveals this great artist of melancholy who cannot be reduced to a single work.
► Edward Munch. A poem of life, love and death. at the Musée d’Orsay until 22 January 2023.