REVIEW: Edvard Munch: Love and Angst, British Museum

The British Museum’s latest exhibition is a thought provoking display that reveals there is much more to Edvard Munch’s work than The Scream.

When we think of Edvard Munch there is a tendency to simply associate his most famous work ‘The Scream’ with him – but as this captivating new exhibition at the British Museum there is so much more to what the artist achieved with his work than just one iconic painting.

From beginning to end, Edvard Munch: Love and Angst explores just how the artist was able to capture and focus his attention on highlighting emotions and the techniques that he used to help immerse those looking at the image so fully that almost brings them to life.

It should be pointed out for those expecting the focus to be on Munch’s paintings will be slightly disappointed as the predominant focus is actually on his prints – which given the selection on display here was an excellent decision made by curators. By concentrating on his prints, it offers a deep insight into the development of his style, highlighted early on in the exhibition with the help of works such as ‘ Kristiania Bohemians II’.

Wondering through this exhibition it is also surprising just how many different emotions that the artist expressed through his work and in turn that you find yourself feeling by simply viewing these pieces of work. While the majority of pieces such as his self-portrait with Tulla Larson (which he split in two after their separation) and ‘The Sick Child’ inspired by his sister’s death are quiet and sombre, there are glimmers of passion and love dotted throughout, with pieces such as ‘The Kiss’ that are just as equally sincere and compelling to look at.

The display also nicely compares and contrasts his work with those he was influenced by and those who were in turn were influenced by him. In particular seeing pieces by the likes of Degas and Eugene Samuel Grasset, add extra context to Munch’s own style of work to great effect.

All of the pieces that have been selected for this comprehensive and detailed exhibition are filled with great sense of power and drama, not only with the print version of ‘The Scream’ but also through works such as ‘Despair’ and ‘Dead Mother and Child’ that deeply acknowledges the artist’s own personal feelings.

It has to be said that the layout of the exhibition is slightly messy and confusing, needing more clarification in terms of its themes. You can find yourself meandering between prints and sections aimlessly – but there is no denying that despite this Edvard Munch: Love and Angst is an intelligent and thought-provoking exhibition that brings the artist out from the shadow of his most famous work.

Overall, Edvard Munch: Love and Angst is an extremely insightful display of work that reflects the artist’s style and technique to great effect. Well worth a visit if you can.

By Emma Clarendon

Edvard Munch: Love and Angst is on display at the British Museum until the 21st July.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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