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Epstein, O.B. (2012). Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye: Tate Modern 28th June-14th October 2012. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 6(3):255-257.

(2012). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 6(3):255-257

Art Exhibition Reviews

Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye: Tate Modern 28th June-14th October 2012

Review by:
Orit Badouk Epstein

Loss is the Presence of Absence

Claustrophobic and dark, unsettling and eerie: visiting this exhibition one is left with a mixture of feelings of great sadness and detachment. Unlike any artist before him, Munch had deliberately mastered the absence of any joyful expression from the characters in his paintings. From his self portraits to Melancholia, Compulsion, Jealousy, and others, the majority of his paintings are filled with haunted, ghostly faces stricken by grief. This grief, literally and figuratively, not only characterises the many themes of loss in his paintings, but is also an autobiographical and brutally honest representation of Munch's fluctuating moods and depression. His was a life surrounded by sickness, death, love, and despair saying; “Sickness and death were a part of my family. I have never got over the unhappiness I felt then. It also has been a major force in my art” (Schneede, 2010, p. 10).

One of five children, Edvard Munch was born in 1863 in Kristiania (which is now Oslo) to a religious and puritanical family. His mother died when he was five and later when he was fourteen, his beloved sister Sophie, also died from tuberculosis. The repetition of motifs in all of his painting clearly reflects how much Munch let loss be his guide. For example, in The Sick Child Munch exercises the memory of his childhood and home where his beloved sister Sophie died. Never overcoming these losses, Munch said that by revisiting this theme, time and again he needed to remember and reflect the emotions of his tear-filled eyelashes so that he could experience this theme to the last cry of pain (Schneede, 2010, p. 12).

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