Opening Night of Munch : Van Gogh
“At it’s heart, Munch and Van Gogh’s work is about real life- it’s painful and elusive aspects, but also it’s astonishing beauty: the cycle of birth and death, consolation, love, human suffering and fear. They wanted their works of art to express the emotions of human existence, and to move and comfort people.”
On the night of Wednesday, September 23rd The Van Gogh Museum welcomed select members to the opening of their new, highly anticipated exhibition. Munch: Van Gogh is the first exhibition unveiled in the new entrance hall, making use of the outstanding architectural elements of the building and celebrating a new era for the museum.
The opening remarks by Director Axel Rüger recounted the six years of work that had gone into making all of this possible, noting the immense pressure of opening the exhibit and new entrance hall within a month of each other. Speaking on the significance of Van Gogh’s death 125 years ago, this new exhibition unveils itself in a timely and celebratory manner. He stressed that the exhibition would not have been possible without the support and collaboration of the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway.
Curator Maite van Dijk, followed with a beautiful speech on the importance of Vincent Van Gogh and Edvard Munch in the history of painting. These two artists stand as cultural icons working in the end of the 19th century, and their efforts resulted in the birth of Expressionism and the focus on self-exploration and the psychological that dominated this period. Maite stresses the similarity of vision and worldview for both artists, framing the exhibition as a celebration of work that addressed and challenged what is most essential about human existence: the relation of self to world.
The 3-story exhibition is a celebration of the enduring expressive quality of both Munch and Van Gogh’s work. The exhibition opens with side-by-side comparison of self-portraits by the artists, setting the tone of the entirety of the show: highlighting the similarity in communicatory themes and revolutionary use of color and perspective. The ideological similarity of two artists who knew of, but had never met each other, is brought to the fore in aspects such as the “cycle of life” display of the artists’ journals and letters. Stages of their artistic processes, such as drawings, woodcuts, and prints, are also displayed.
The most touching comparisons are those of similar subject and focus, such as forests, landscapes, or kissing couples in the park. It is in these comparisons that the expressive use of color, line, and form comes to the fore. While the artists may have varied their handling of plastic means, the emotive force of their works stands in true alliance. The new exhibition is a celebration of their life and work, and a show not to be missed. For a more in-depth discussion of the exhibition, check back soon!