The popular perception of Munch as a mostly melancholic painter (“The Scream”) has changed since the latest exhibition of his photographs at the Schirn in Frankfurt. It sheds a new light on his way of life and work and really new for me was his exploration of photography.
It is interesting to see how the history of art shapes the image of a well-known artist. Walking through the exhibition you become aware of this. What you think you know could be a unidirectional apprehension.
The selection of work shows that the Norwegian artist was much less introverted and traveled all around Europe to maintain contacts and manage his art, namely in Paris, Nice, Copenhagen, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Dresden…
Also his technique was anything but single-track. He was quite the experimental photographer. He didn’t seem to mind blurring, doubles, and perhaps he shot the first self-portraits with stretched out arms! He also had no documentary interest, arranged his paintings in groups like people in a special surronding. Not to forget his film-exploration (looks a little like LomoKino).
In the end it is really obvious how his photographic aesthetic influences his painings. He uses extreme vanishing point composition and motifs (often people at the bottom), cut off at the edge of an image.
For me, it is really a reassessment of Munch as a visual artist.
The exhibition can be seen until May 13, 2012 in Frankfurt before it moves to the Tate Modern in London.