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"Edvard Munch. 1912 in Germany"
2002-11-24 until 2003-02-16
In the town of Bielefeld there is a tradition of exhibitions of the work of Edvard Munch, one of the most important artists of the 20th century. In 1907 the Kunstsalon Otto Fischer presented a total of 44 paintings and prints. In 1931 Dr Heinrich Becker showed 18 paintings and 115 printed works in the Städtisches Kunsthaus. In 1980 Dr. Ulrich Weisner put on a comprehensive exhibition, entitled Liebe Angst Tod [Love Fear Death], with drawings and prints from the Munch-museet in Oslo. This present exhibition in the Kunsthalle is devoted to works exhibited by Edvard Munch in Germany in 1912.
Born in Norway in 1863, Munch moved in 1909 to a secluded spot in Kragorø on the southern coast of Norway, where he found his quietest studio so far since his temporary studio in Hvitsten on the Oslo Fjord. His apprenticeship and journeyman years were now over, but during that time fate had dealt Munch a number of severe blows in his private life; nevertheless the public enthusiastically applauded his motifs and continuingly youthful technique as those of an artist at the heights of his powers. After his scandalous exhibition in Berlin in 1892, Germany was the country where he was most highly regarded. The ground-breaking exhibition of the Kölner Sonderbund in 1912 devoted an entire room to Munch’s work, with a retrospective of 32 paintings. The portraits, landscapes and Symbolist works from 1889 to 1912 emphatically cast Munch in the role of one of the most important living artists alive, on a par with Pablo Picasso. In 1912, Munch was commissioned to design the painted decorations for the University in Christiania (now Oslo), the capital of Norway. That year a similarly successful exhibition of his work was presented in the capital, with the result that 1912 became the year of Munch’s real breakthrough and success internationally.
This fourth exhibition of Munch’s work in Bielefeld focuses on his reputation and role in Germany in 1912. Munch, an outstanding painter of cityscapes, became famous at a time when he retreated to the countryside, preferring to avoid human company having repeatedly been hospitalised for nervous disorders. While fellow artists and experts in the field recognised his growing reputation, German collectors – who could have bought almost all the works on show – were still rather reticent.
Edvard Munch. 1912 in Germany is supported by the Stiftung der Sparkasse Bielefeld and the Staff Stiftung, Lemgo, whose generosity made possible the purchase of painting Dorfstraße Kragerø in 1997, also painted in 1912. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue in German with essays and documents, and with colour illustrations of all the works on show.