Edvard Munch: Everything but the Scream

It was a glorious day off in the middle of the week – sunny, not warm exactly but with a definite springtime feel. April in Paris, it’s treacherous: go ahead, soak up those rays, but keep your coat and scarf close by. With my friends all busy at their regular Monday-to-Friday jobs (and I say this with envy – after several years working as a journalist, I love my trade, but I dream of 9-to-5) my only hope to pass the afternoon was the company of a fellow journo. Lo and behold: a fellow journo was free, and he wanted to go see the new Edvard Munch exhibit.

I had no idea who Edvard Munch was, but I was up for anything new. The fact that the exhibit is held in the uber-chic Madeleine neighborhood may or may not have played a part in my enthusiasm. I may or may not have gotten there early, strolled around a few boutiques, and tried on a couple of entirely weather-inappropriate dresses (let’s face it, the Paris spring is always rather chilly). But I digress. Then, I headed to the Pinacotheque, the museum that opened three years ago right on Madeleine Square.

If you too, dear reader, have no idea who Edvard Munch is, I have one little refresher for you that might ring a bell:

The Scream

Well, this exhibit is everything but the Scream. The Scream is not there. In fact, it’s called the Anti-Scream (L’Anti-Cri). And it’s a surprising little jewel of a show. Uneven, heterogeneous, mysterious, disharmonious even. It traces the evolution of Munch’s art, straddling the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. His works sprawl in all kinds of directions. Some of them good, some falling flat. Few have the primal energy and anguish of that scream, and it’s easy to understand why outside of his native Norway, Munch is known for that painting before all the others. I was left cold by many of the prints, including the more dramatic ones around the themes of jealousy.

Jealousy

I was pleased, surprisingly, by some landscapes – and by a blurry oil painting of Nice that perfectly captured the morning sun in the South of France. I was moved by a few of the portraits – in particular that of a young boy, swathed in purple, that stood out among the rest, or that of a mature man, drawn in strokes of orange and green – odd colors that came to such a natural, evident finish. Above all I was surprised to find such different styles signed by the same artist. You can see a filiation to Turner, but you can also find works closer to Marjane Satrapi’s or Tim Burton’s drawings.

Attraction I

A special note for the intriguing group of Alpha and Omega drawings – a standalone series, displayed without an explanation, but beautifully poetic.

Omega and the Pig

The show is not as pulled-together as the Paris blockbusters are. It feels dissonant, rugged, a bit rough around the edges. But it’s also nice not to have everything spoon-fed to you, to be enthused by some pieces and unimpressed by some others, and to leave surprised, and just a little bit perplexed.

Footnotes

The crowd is quite dense, so expect some wrangling to get a good view of the works, but there was no queue when we went.

The prices 10 euros for the general public, 8 euros for students, the unemployed, art industry professionals, and those under 25.

The address la Pinacotheque de Paris, 28 place de la Madeleine in the 1st.

The hours everyday until July 18, from 10.30am to 6pm. Wednesdays until 9pm.

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Comments
3 Responses to “Edvard Munch: Everything but the Scream”
  1. Thanks for the tip – it seems like a great exhibit. We’ll pass it on to our students 🙂

  2. Loulou says:

    apistudyabroad – delighted we could help!

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