Edvard Munch and the Tacoma Art Museum

BROOKE THAMES & MCKENNA MORIN; A&C Editor & Photography Editor: thamesbe@plu.edu

In issue 13 of the Mast, the Arts & Culture section featured an announcement of the Tacoma Art Museum’s “Edvard Munch and the Sea Exhibit.” In partnership with PLU, TAM developed this exhibit to honor the university’s 125th anniversary. TAM invited A&C Editor Brooke Thames and Photography Editor McKenna Morin to see the exhibit firsthand at a press tour held April 13.

The Tacoma Art Museum went “straight to Edvard Munch” when partnering with  PacifIc Lutheran University to celebrate the university’s 125th Anniversary.

Edvard Munch and the Sea opened at TAM April 9 and features a collection of 26 prints and one painting by the famous Norwegian artist.  All works  displayed are connected by both literal and thematic invocations of the sea.

DSC_0011Munch spent much of his life living next to water and visiting coastal towns in Norway. The sea manifests itself in his artwork as  a major source of inspiration and artistic metaphor.

“He used the sea as the subject of landscapes, as a backdrop for human interactions, and as a metaphor for love, longing, grief, joy, and other tumultuous emotions,” said Margaret Bullock, Curator of Collections and Special Exhibitions.

Several  of his prints featured in “Edvard Munch and the Sea” feature water  in the landscape or water-like movements and artistic techniques.

Prints like “Two People (The Lonely Ones)” clearly depict the ocean as a setting and metaphorical representation of the anxiety, fear and difficulty that accompanies romantic relationships. “On the Waves of Love,” on the other hand, depicts blissful love and  water manifests itself in the way the night sky seems to flow  behind the two lovers.

“Edvard Munch and the Sea” brings different pieces together which share the same motif, but presents that motif in a variety of contexts.

“Munch was a person who experienced life intensely, who felt deeply, and his images reflect that,” Bullock said. “These are very strong images with many layers of meaning.”

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When   cultivating an exhibit to honor PLU’s Norwegian heritage, Munch was a go-to for TAM. While Munch is traditionally known for his painting, “The Scream,” TAM  wished to showcase his lesser-known and unappreciated landscape work to highlight his position as  a major Norwegian artist.

“A  lot of people don’t know the name Edvard Munch,  but you [mention] ‘The Scream’ and everybody goes, ‘Oh, I know who that is,’” said Julianna Verboort, Public Relations and Communications Manager.

The lack of Edvard Munch exhibits around the world also served as a source of inspiration for  “Edvard Munch and the Sea.” TAM sought to capitalize on the opportunity to present a unique among art galleries.

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“I can’t think of any other Munch exhibit [on display] at the moment anywhere else in the world,” Executive Director Stephanie Stebich said.

In addition to TAM’s efforts, PLU faculty members also worked to bring “Edvard Munch and the Sea” to life.  Advancement Officer Kim Nessselquist and his wife  proved instrumental in fostering connections with collector Sally Epstein, who contributed a significant amount of the prints currently on display.

Additionally, Elisabeth Ward, Director of the Scandinavian Cultural Center, welcomed artwork inspired by Munch to  hang in  the Scandinavian Center.

“In celebration of the university’s contributions to the arts in our region, and honoring our founding Norwegian pioneers, we were interested in working with TAM to engage people with the rich artistic history of Norway,”  President Tom Krise said.

“Edvard Munch and the Sea” shows through July 7th, and includes free admission for students.

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