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Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye - Tate Modern

Edvard Munch, The Girls on the Bridge (detail).

Exhibition preview

FEW OTHER modern artists are better known and yet less understood than Norwegian painter Edvard Munch (1863–1944).

An exhibition entitled Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye – on display at Tate Modern until October 14, 2012 – examines the artist’s work from the 20th century, including sixty paintings, many from the Munch Museum in Oslo, with a rare showing of his work in film and photography.

Munch is often seen as a 19th-century Symbolist painter but this exhibition shows how he engaged with modernity and was inspired by the everyday life outside of his studio such as street scenes and incidents reported in the media – including The House is Burning (1925–7), a sensational view of a real life event with people fleeing the scene of a burning building.

The exhibition also examines how Munch often repeated a single motif over a long period of time in order to re-work it, as can be seen in the different versions of his most celebrated works, such as The Sick Child (1885–1927) and Girls on the Bridge (1902–27).

Munch’s use of prominent foregrounds and strong diagonals reference the technological developments in cinema and photography at the time. Creating the illusion of figures moving towards the spectator, this visual trick can be seen in many of Munch’s most innovative works such as Workers on their Way Home (1913–14).

He was also keenly aware of the visual effects brought on by the introduction of electric lighting on theatre stages and used this to create striking effect in works such as The Artist and his Model (1919–21).

Like other painters such as Bonnard and Vuillard, Munch adopted photography in the early years of the 20th century and largely focused on self-portraits, which he obsessively repeated. In the 1930s, he developed an eye disease and made poignant works which charted the effects of his degenerating sight.

A major retrospective of the work of Damien Hirst continues at Tate Modern until September 9, 2012.

Tate Modern, Bankside, London, SE1 9TG

For more information visit www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern.