Edvard Munch and the Cycle of Life
February 28, 2020 — September 6, 2020
Special Exhibition Gallery
Edvard Munch’s The Frieze of Life is the point of departure for this first-ever exhibition dedicated to Edvard Munch at the Chrysler Museum. The autobiographical cycle of images captures how pain and healing are a part of life for Munch, who suffered an unusual amount of early trauma and vulnerability.
Edvard Munch and the Cycle of Life: Prints from the National Gallery of Art will explore how Munch actively and theatrically created his artistic persona around his experiences. It will also highlight Munch’s intense engagement with bohemian circles and the art world in Paris and Berlin.
Tragedy struck Munch’s family repeatedly in his early years. He suffered an accidental shooting in an episode that eerily parallel’s Vincent van Gogh’s attempted suicide, in which he severely injured his hand during a lover’s quarrel. Berlin and Paris offered an escape from the sites of his traumas and failures as did his remote villa in Norway.
In 1908, Munch suffered a psychological collapse. He sought dramatic treatment from Dr. Jacobsen, a physician who became a trusted friend, and even submitted himself to electroshock therapy. He then repeated the explorations and themes of The Frieze of Life in Alpha and Omega, an even more extreme cycle of 1908 lithographs directly tied to his therapy.
Alpha and Omega is rarely studied or considered in exhibitions, perhaps because of the difficulty of the subject matter. Rooted in his own trauma, the project is told as a story with biblical themes and connections to classical myths of his childhood and education. Munch used these stories to understand his experiences.
His prints, like his life, include trauma and reveal their vulnerabilities in an effort to heal and avoid hiding behind illusions.
Responses from our community mental health professionals.
Tour the exhibition
Join Lloyd DeWitt, Chief Curator and Irene Leache Curator of European Art, on this three-part virtual tour through the exhibition.