September 21, 2023


How Art Works

Artwork Historical past Information: EDVARD MUNCH: TREMBLING EARTH

12 min read



JUNE 10-October 15 

Museum Barberini, Potsdam, Germany

November 18, 2023–April 1, 2024

Munch Museum (MUNCH), Oslo, Norway

 April 27–August 24, 2024

The Clark Artwork Institute presents the primary exhibition in the US to think about how the famous Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863–1944) employed nature to convey which means in his artwork. Munch is regarded primarily as a determine painter, and his most celebrated photographs (together with his iconic The Scream) are related to themes of affection, anxiousness, longing, and loss of life. But, panorama performs an important position in a big portion of Munch’s work. Edvard Munch: Trembling Earth considers this necessary, however much less explored facet of the artist’s profession. The Clark is the only U.S. venue for the exhibition which opens on June 10 and is on view by October 15, 2023. Organized in collaboration with the Museum Barberini, Potsdam, Germany and the Munch Museum (MUNCH), Oslo, Norway, the exhibition is introduced in Potsdam from November 18, 2023–April 1, 2024, and in Oslo from April 27–August 24, 2024.

“This fascinating exhibition offers a recent alternative to discover the vary and depth of Edvard Munch’s artwork,” stated Olivier Meslay, Hardymon Director of the Clark. “Though many individuals make speedy associations and assumptions relating to Munch’s work, this exhibition gives a significantly completely different take a look at the artist that encourages us to increase our understanding and deepen our appreciation of his distinctive abilities. For the Clark, the chance to discover Munch’s perceptions of nature towards the backdrop of our personal lovely pure setting is especially compelling.”

The exhibition is organized thematically to indicate how Munch used nature to convey human feelings and relationships, rejoice farming follow and backyard cultivation, and discover the mysteries of the forest at the same time as his Norwegian homeland confronted industrialization. 

Trembling Earth options seventy-five objects, starting from brilliantly hued landscapes and three gorgeous self-portraits, to an intensive number of his revolutionary prints and drawings, together with a lithograph of The Scream. The exhibition consists of greater than thirty works from MUNCH’s world-renowned assortment, main items from different museums within the USA and Europe, and almost forty work, prints, and drawings from non-public collections, a lot of that are hardly ever exhibited.

“This exhibition attracts on new analysis to supply a recent perspective on Munch’s profession,” stated Jay A. Clarke, Rothman Household Curator of Prints and Drawings on the Artwork Institute of Chicago. “Alongside depictions of loss of life, existential torment, and troubled relationships, Munch additionally created imagery reflecting his data of science, exhibiting his embrace of pantheism, and a deep reverence for nature.” Clarke led the curatorial venture for the Clark and commenced early work on the exhibition when she served as its Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Images from 2009–2018.


This exhibition introduces Munch’s lesser-known panorama work and considers his iconic figural photographs from a brand new perspective, by specializing in how his rendering of nature animated his chosen narratives.  In work of the Oslo Fjord shoreline and the Baltic coast of Germany, Munch explored modifications led to by elevated tourism, partially the results of well being reform initiatives extolling the virtues of out of doors exercise. Munch developed his personal pantheistic worldview that related human biology, vegetation, and the photo voltaic system. Munch’s fascination with humankind’s interplay with the earth and the influence of 1 on the opposite could be seen in a number of landscape-rich prints, drawings, and work from the Eighteen Nineties to the Nineteen Forties.

“It’s with nice pleasure that the MUNCH Museum participates on this substantial exhibition of Edvard Munch’s artwork, the place the general public can achieve perception into his robust relationship to nature. It’s also a fantastic pleasure to take part in a community of expert professionals from the U.S., Germany, and Norway, collaborating to carry ahead new data about considered one of Norway’s best artists. I’m certain that the exhibition and the insightful catalogue that accompanies all three venues might be nicely obtained by the general public,” stated Tone Hansen, director of MUNCH. “MUNCH is a museum for contemporary and modern artwork, and manages and preserves the legacy of Edvard Munch for a world public. An exhibition sequence like this one demonstrates the significance of Munch’s work, the worth of collaboration, and the significance of latest analysis and perception.”

Ortrud Westheider, director of the Museum Barberini stated: “Munch’s works are nonetheless unsurpassed of their emotional expressiveness and overwhelming modernity, and for good purpose: for many individuals, his artwork is an emblem of their very own emotions. With the primary exhibition devoted solely to Munch’s panorama depictions, we’re opening up a aspect of his oeuvre that has hitherto been little represented, and the dramatic climate circumstances in his work tackle a particular urgency, particularly towards the backdrop of the looming local weather disaster.”


Munch’s depictions of forests embrace emotional encounters between {couples}, youngsters approaching dense woods, and scenes of Norway’s logging trade. In prints of the Eighteen Nineties and 1910s, reminiscent of 

Ashes I (1896) 



and In the direction of the Forest (1897 and 1915), 

a dense thicket of wooden usually served as a backdrop for scenes of impending liaisons or extinguished love. In his diaries and different writings, the artist instructed the woods as a spot the place love might both collapse or immediate intimacy. 

The Fairytale Forest (1927–29), considered one of plenty of works on this theme painted from 1901 by the late Nineteen Twenties, reveals babies strolling in direction of an imposing forest. The claustrophobic depiction of youngsters surrounded by towering darkish spruces is heightened by the acid-green colours, the variations in scale, and the anthropomorphic form of the timber, whose branches resemble a gaping mouth. 

Edvard Munch, The Yellow Log, 1912, oil on canvas. Munchmuseet, MM.M.00393, © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph: Munchmuseet 

The Yellow Log (1912) 

and The Logger (1913) draw consideration to each the expansion of timber and destruction of Norway’s forests. The Yellow Log depicts a gaggle of felled timber in a dense forest, the brightly-hued giant central tree dramatically disappearing into the vanishing level of the canvas. The encircling trunks are shaded purple with darkish, cellular-shaped circles demarcating their bark and emphasizing the life pressure inside them. 


Munch’s work of cultivated landscapes might be seen as reactions towards the extraordinary urbanization and modernization that occurred throughout his lifetime. Particularly, farming topics exhibit Munch’s quest for options to the alienating circumstances of metropolis life. Throughout a time when Norwegian agriculture was present process modernization and mechanization, Munch most well-liked to depict conventional small-scale farming practices, celebrating the farmer’s “easy” lifestyle, as in 

The Haymaker (1917).  

reveals a female and male laborer posed on both aspect of a tree, suggesting a concord between the sexes.  

The artist drew inspiration from the fertile coastal space across the Oslo Fjord, the place he rented or owned properties in places reminiscent of Åsgårdstrand, Kragerø, and Hvitsten. Reflecting a horticultural increase in Norway, Munch created flower and kitchen gardens, planted fruit timber and stored animals reminiscent of hens, geese, and horses at his numerous houses. The artist’s closing property at Ekely, on the outskirts of Oslo, included a productive backyard the place he planted greens throughout World Conflict I to produce his household and pals with recent produce. He later let the gardens run wild, with timber dripping with fruit, as featured in 

Apple Tree within the Backyard (1932–42). 

In Lady with Pumpkin (1942) Munch pairs the girl with the plush abundance of the backyard.

The artist regarded his gardens and fields as locations of refuge overflowing with life. They will also be understood as liminal zones between nature and civilization. In a pocket book, Munch described the feminine figures who populate his work of gardens as “brightly dressed girls from the metropolis.” The formally dressed girl who seems in 

Lady Underneath Apple Tree (1904) appears misplaced within the verdant setting, and maybe alerts the modern enlargement of tourism within the resorts across the Oslo Fjord. 


Munch’s fascination with metamorphosis, collectively together with his religion in nature’s cyclical renewal, led him to depict every season with reverence. Local weather anxiousness firstly of the 20th century concerned very completely different issues to those who preoccupy us immediately. The prevalent worry was not that temperatures would rise, however that the earth could be engulfed by a brand new Ice Age. As an avid newspaper reader, Munch would have been conscious of this pattern, though his depictions of snow and ice will not be overtly pessimistic. His work of snowy landscapes rejoice the thriller and marvel of Norway’s lengthy, darkish winters. The big-scale night vistas, painted in hues of white and blue, function starry night time skies and durable pine timber impervious to the bitter chilly. The snowcapped forests, townscapes, and moonlit winter skies in work reminiscent of 

White Night time (1900–01)

 and Starry Night time (1922-24) convey a way of quiet awe. 

Starry Night time depicts an impressive frozen panorama beneath the starlit cover of an evening sky. The attitude is from the artist’s veranda at his residence in Ekely, the place he regarded out over the winter panorama of his fields and backyard, considering the sky that arches over the distant lights of town. 

Munch additionally depicted excessive climate occasions in the course of the hotter months, as in 

The Storm 

and Stormy Panorama (1902–03), permitting him to discover tumultuous circumstances like waving timber and swirling clouds. For all his consciousness of humankind’s imprint on nature and interconnectedness with the universe, Munch’s work of snow, storm, and ice current nature as a pressure that’s finally past human management. 


The shoreline was an necessary motif for Munch, as he lived on or close to the Oslo Fjord coast a lot of his grownup life. Munch depicted its curving shoreline in his work, drawings, and prints from the Eighteen Nineties by the Nineteen Thirties. It turned a recurring theme, one he recognized with the “perpetually shifting traces of life.” In some depictions, the shoreline itself was the topic, as in 

Summer time Night time by the Seashore
 (1902–03), and in others it was a backdrop amplifying human emotion, as in 

Two Human Beings, the Lonely Ones (1899). The shoreline featured most prominently in Munch’s works depicting themes of melancholy, human isolation, and bodily separation. 

One narrative theme that employed the shoreline was that of a person and girl parting from each other. 

Separation II (1896) focuses intently on a pair, exhibiting solely their heads, shoulders, and the shoreline winding between and behind them. The girl faces the water and strands of her hair, echoing each the waves and curving shore, stream in direction of the person, her tresses touching his head and shoulder, and settling close to his coronary heart. The person, eyes closed and head turning away from the water, appears defeated but inextricably related to the girl.

One other frequent topic the artist set on the shoreline was a dejected man or girl going through the water. Whereas the determine was most frequently male, Munch’s Melancholy II (1898) woodcut depicts a girl. The girl throws her head into her palms with hair cascading downwards. Her pink gown, with the anthropomorphic form of an open mouth, echoes the curving shoreline, its borders emphasised by the black background. By setting depictions of separation, attraction, and loneliness towards the winding and jagged coast of the fjord, Munch infused his photos with vitality and emotion. 


Munch’s creative follow was affected by his overlapping pursuits in philosophy, faith, and the pure sciences. Though raised in a staunchly Christian family, in maturity Munch’s non secular views have been formed by scientific theories of Darwinian evolution and Monism, a philosophical perception that every one existence is unified: animal, vegetal, and terrestrial. The place of people as a part of a cosmic cycle is a recurrent theme in his artwork, one usually related to the picture that has turn into synonymous with fashionable anxiousness, 

The Scream

A lithograph of the artist’s most celebrated work—considered one of about solely thirty made—is on view within the exhibition. 

The Scream has usually been interpreted as an outward expression of an inside psychological state. Seen alongside 

The Solar (1912), nonetheless, its connection to the common pressure of nature turns into extra evidentIn The Scream, a determine confronts the viewer with staring eyes and mouth agape. Much more importantly, the determine is depicted as a part of the churning, trembling panorama behind. The rhythm of the lone determine’s swaying physique continues into the pulsating panorama. Nature is alive, like a human being, they usually mutually influence one another. The German inscription included on the lithograph interprets to “I felt the good scream by nature.” 

Munch’s long-standing fascination with the existential which means of nature culminates within the motif of the solar. Painted with magnificent power, the beams of sunshine of The Solar (1912) are rendered in robust hues of orange, yellow, white, and inexperienced, piercing the earth beneath, infusing the rocks, water, and soil with power.  In associated works, the artist linked humankind to nature and the cosmos with photographs of individuals stretching upwards in direction of the solar, an emblem of life and enlightenment. 

A number of works depict the cycles of nature straight, for instance within the type of rotting our bodies that present nourishment to sprouting crops. In his 1896 drawing 

Metabolism (Life and Dying), crops with anthropomorphic options develop out of the corpse of a girl. Within the background, a pregnant girl is surrounded by crops and timber. The solar’s rays shine upon her physique, nourishing the child rising inside her in addition to the encircling crops. They counsel that the boundaries between humanity and nature are blurred—we don’t stand exterior the cycle of nature, we’re a part of it. There are not any clear distinctions between inside and exterior, materials and non-material, dwelling and lifeless.


All through his life, particular geographic websites impacted Munch and his creative manufacturing. These locations the place Munch lived and labored for durations of time turned protagonists in his work, prints, and drawings, distinct with their very own visible traits and impressed narratives.

In his work of Åsgårdstrand, the Norwegian village the place Munch spent a lot of his summers, the artist depicted the rocky, curving shoreline when wanting away from the village, as in 

Seashore (1904).  He additionally regarded inland, shifting his focus to younger women and girls standing in town’s pier in entrance of the Kiøsterud Manor, one of many grandest buildings within the city. One in every of Munch’s most iconic and repeated motifs is 

Women on the Bridge

From 1902 to 1935, the artist created twelve work and 4 print compositions that includes teams of women or girls standing on the pier in the course of the summer season, surrounded by the water through which a large linden tree is mirrored.

Munch spent an intense interval from 1907 to 1908 in Warnemünde, on the northern coast of Germany, the place he sought water cures and relaxation for his frayed nerves simply previous to being hospitalized for alcoholism and a nervous breakdown. Right here, he created 

Bathing Males (1907–8), which turned the central panel in a sequence of 5 often called 

The Ages of Man. Bathing Males depicts a gaggle of nude, muscular middle-aged males strolling towards the viewer, enjoying within the waves, and strolling alongside the shore. The scene is considered one of healthful vitality. 

In 1910, Munch purchased property on the Oslo Fjord in Hvitsten, the place he created bathing scenes and constructed outside studios for his monumental works. As Munch embraced the therapeutic results of solar and the outside, his shade palette brightened, as in works like Bathing Man (1918). On this interval, his contemporaries started to understand the artist as happier: at peace with himself and at one with nature. 


The exhibition additionally marks the publication of Edvard Munch: Trembling Earth, a 248-page catalogue with contributions by Ali Smith, Jay A. Clarke, Jill Lloyd, Trine Otte Bak Nielsen, and Arne Johan Vetlesen. 

The guide is revealed by MUNCH, Oslo, Norway and distributed by Yale College Press, New Haven. 

A thought-provoking quantity on Munch’s usually uncared for depictions of nature, this richly illustrated catalogue offers a multifaceted perspective on Munch’s photographs of the pure world, exploring the Norwegian artist’s landscapes, seascapes, and existential environments in gentle of his personal time and ours.