Review: Edvard Munch exhibit at the Clark Art Institute

The Clark Art Institute and the exhibition for Edvard Munch.

Review submitted by New England Wax member, Lola Baltzell

My cousin invited me to see the Edvard Munch show “Trembling Earth”
at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA., and I’m so glad that he
did. The show runs through October 15 and this is the only stop in the
US. It will be shown in Potsdam in November and Oslo in April 2024.

Admittedly, Munch’s “The Scream” – a lithograph – is the image I was
most familiar with it’s ubiquitous – coffee cups, socks and mouse pads.
He’s mostly considered a figure painter, but this show focuses mostly on
landscape. I was delighted to see a whole different body of work. He is
considered to be one of the five great postimpressionists.

Woodcut print titled "Towards the Forest" by Edvard Munch at the Clark Art Institute exhibition for Edvard Munch.

It’s been many years since I’ve been to the Clark, and the renovations
since 2014 are gorgeous. The grounds are dramatic with a reflecting pool
and the Berkshire hills surrounding it. A very special place.

As a psychotherapist, I was very interested in his personal history. His
mother died of tuberculosis when he was 5, and his sister died when he
was 14. His mother’s sister moved in when his mother died. His father is
described as very religious and strict. He said, ” sickness, insanity
and death were the angels that surrounded my cradle and they followed me
throughout my life.” He committed himself to a psychiatric hospital in
1910 for alcoholism and psychosis. He recovered after eight months, and
continued his career. We wonder if he was a repressed gay man which led
to alcoholism and mental health problems.

The show included series of lithographs and woodcuts, as well as
paintings. The figurative work was uncomfortable to view – the adult
relationships felt tortured, the children felt frail and vulnerable. The
landscapes felt much more positive.

Painting by Edvard Munch titled The Yellow Log" at the Clark Art Institute exhibition for Edvard Munch.
“The Yellow Log”

My favorite pieces were “The Yellow Log”, “New Snow” and “Fertility”. We
agreed that we loved his trees. Unique shapes, colors and mark-making. I
particularly loved “New Snow” which feels so hopeful.

We talked non-stop as we viewed the show, and listened to others’
conversations as well. It was thought-provoking, disturbing, dynamic, and
gorgeous. We loved it.

Painting by Edvard Munch titled "Fertility" at the Clark Art Institute exhibition for Edvard Munch.