On the 25th of September the inspirational ‘Van Gogh+Munch’ exhibition opened at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, after it had been on display at the Munch Museum in Oslo. The exhibition – for the first time – explores the similarities and connections between the two influential artists; starting with alignment in aesthetics and stylized kinship to their connections which exist on a deeper level. Rather than uncritically accepting established perceptions, the exhibition takes a closer look at their artistic point of departure, the influences they were exposed to, the development in style and technique and what artistic goals they set for themselves, and in this way create a deeper understanding of why these artists are so often compared to each other. When in Amsterdam make sure to visit.
We were fantasizing about a possible meeting in May 1890, because they were both in Paris at that time, and they both probably went to the same exhibition. But they probably didn’t meet. Munch admired van Gogh very much and he would have mentioned it in his letters if he had met him.
Important in both artist’s lifes is Paris. The connection between van Gogh and Munch even stretches to living in the same neighborhood (Montmartre) and having moved in the same artistic circles of painters and writers. Although they almost certainly never met, there was a direct link between the two – the Norwegian artist Hans Heyerdahl. Vincent’s brother Theo was Heyderdahl’s dealer, so it is entirely possible that the Norwegian introduced him to the young Edvard.
Another noticeable trait that Munch and Van Gogh had in common was that both developed ambitious projects in which a number of pictures formed a larger whole. Munch’s most famous picture series is ‘The Frieze of Life’ included in the exhibition, which encompasses most of his major works from the 1890s with the universal themes of love, angst and death. Van Gogh developed a project he called ‘Décoration’ – also part of the curation: a series of independent pictures that gained enhanced significance when shown together. As Munch wrote:
When they were positioned together there immediately arose a resonance between them and they became totally different than when displayed individually. It became a symphony.
‘Van Gogh+Munch’ will run until the 17th of January 2016 at the Van Gogh Museum, located at the Paulus Potterstraat 7 in Amsterdam.
For more information and to order tickets online see here.