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Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye
Tate Modern , London

This Norwegian artist is well known for the hysterical intensity of his most famous piece The Scream, as well as its unfortunate tendency to be stolen. However, this exhibition has a surprising effect as Nicholas Cullinan, the curator of The Modern Eye, illustrates a new perspective on Edvard Munch that I personally have never come across. This show reveals how Munch was influenced by cultural and technological developments of his era and not just by social realism, and moves away from his well known work, made in the 1880s and 1890s.

This display throws Munch’s artistic talent of the 20th century towards the audience, making it unavoidable to see his creative development through the originals and reworkings of a selection of his pieces that are on show. Munch stated that these reworkings were “never the same” as he would “build one painting on the last.” His growing interest in technological development is depicted through the many autobiographical photographs that are on display, also giving the viewer more of a passive insight. One section of this exhibition is dedicated to Munch’s use of ‘optical space’ as he would exaggerate perspectival effects and heighten the sense of distance, many characteristics that we can recognise within photography.

The modern side of Munch is one that few have paid attention to and portrays another side to this artist who is usually only known for a style of neurotic expressionism. His anxieties and spiritual unrest are still present, as his paintings clearly show how he expressed his emotions in the face of reality rather than in the appearance of reality. Munch undeniably based most of his work on personal experiences and traumas that he was unable to psychologically escape. These transferred into his style that he is so famous for. His genius allowed him to portray deep emotion and intense atmosphere without using much detail within his subjects' facial expressions. As Munch deals with his emotional state through his work, he becomes the exemplar to Edward Hopper's quote, “If you could say it in words, there’d be no reason to paint.”

This very clever artist did not just obsess with his own psychological and emotional state, but also experimented with space and perspective to highlight the intensity of his work. This exhibition successfully illustrates how Munch was a modern artist and should be recognised for his use of technology to document his personal experiences as well as painting his sentiment towards them.

Charlotte Mathias