After more than three months at Tate Modern Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye is now in its final week! As the exhibition comes to an end it’s interesting to think about both the ongoing legacy of an exhibition as well as the legacy of an artist and their impact and influence on succeeding and even future generations of artists.
In terms of the legacy of the exhibition, the show was an interesting opportunity to introduce Munch in a different light, as a twentieth century artist, shying away from the traditional representation of him as a nineteenth century symbolist, and instead presenting a thematic exhibition rather than a traditional retrospective. Among other things this approach enabled us to look at his interest and experimentation in different mediums and new technologies such as photography and cinema. It also enabled us to highlight incidents in Munch’s life which are not very widely known, for example his temporary loss of sight which occurred in 1930 when he suffered from an intraocular haemorrhage. Room 11: The Averted Eye includes many of the works Munch made during this period where due to his loss of sight he abandoned figurative painting and instead began to document what he could see through his damaged eye. These rather fragile works on paper are very rarely shown outside Norway so it was great to be able to include them in the exhibition and show them for the first time in London.
In relation to Munch’s legacy as an artists one of the reasons we thought it was timely to hold a Munch exhibition is because of his continued and widespread influence on younger generations of artists. The list of artists that name Munch as an influence is quite varied and includes Jasper Johns, Peter Doig, Tracey Emin and Enrico David. This Saturday 13 October Tate, with support from the Norwegian Embassy will hold a symposium titled Munch: The Promise of Modernity. The symposium will explore ideas around Munch as a modern artists as well as a special discussion with Tracey Emin in conversation with Nicholas Cullinan, curator of the Munch exhibition at Tate Modern, discussing the lasting impact of Munch’s work and his ongoing influence on younger generations of artists. This is set to be a day of interesting discussions and a great way to round up the final weekend of the exhibition, by reconsidering Munch’s continuing relevance for younger artists and audiences.