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Mask of horror

As a major exhibition of prints by Edvard Munch comes to Glasgow Neil Cooper charts the enduring appeal of the tormented Norwegian artist

en a daring daylight robbery liberated Edvard Munch‘s painting ‘The Scream‘ from ()slo‘s Munch Museum in 2004. the international art world was in despair. ()nce recovered. the painting was damaged externally to the extent of being kept out of view for some time until it was restored. As an inadvertent symbol of Munch's own internal damage. it couldn‘t be more perfect. Munch‘s studies of human torment. after all. captured the inner anguish of a generation coming to terms with its own neuroses at the fag end of the l9th century. An unlikely tourist attraction. "The Scream‘ is nevertheless one of the most instantly recognisable images on the planet. You can see the appeal to the Japanese devotees who surround it and who. when they‘re not snapping away with cameras that bestow the work with nth-generation immortality. stare at it like a mirror. Munch's mirror. however. doesn‘t bother with externals. preferring to give back a painfully honest reflection of the viewer‘s inner id. The Munch Museum understandably aren‘t letting that version of "I‘he Scream‘ out of their sight. This summer. however. Scottish audiences will have a rare opportunity to reflect on one of the founding fathers of expressionism's equally evocative black and white

lithograph of the piece. Sitting alongside 39 other

prints in the first major showing of Munch on these shores for 35 years. the Hunterian‘s exhibition will be the last time ever these works are put out on loan. ‘This is a major body of work.‘ stresses Hunterian curator Peter Black. ‘There are scarcely any prints by Munch in the UK. only l9 or so. but his prints are

crucial. and came at a timely point in printmaking ; history. Munch started making prints out of a . desperate need to publicise himself. and it was an ,

ideal medium for him. because printmaking has a concentrated power that reduces the image to its essentials. and intensifies the imagery.‘

Nowhere is this more obvious than in ‘The Scream.’

a work born out of Munch's sickly and dysfunctional 7

childhood. which was damaged even further by the early deaths of his mother and a sister to TB. A

lifetime of mental anguish was laid bare. influencing - not just the German expressionists who followed in his wake. but similarly bombed-out generations . whose own artistic howls were unleashed from a

culture of existential alienation. psycho-therapy and

shock tactics. Not for nothing. one suspects. was the debut album by first—generation punk band Siouxsie : and the Banshees named ‘The Scream” (they later released a single. ‘Happy House'. perhaps named E

after the fisherman's cabin in Asgiirdstrand that became Munch’s summer retreat for 20 years).

()riginally painted in I893. ‘The Scream‘ formed

part of Munch‘s Frieze ofLi/‘e. ‘A Poem About Life.

Love and Death.‘ After painting it. though. he ‘gave : up hope ever of being able to love again.’ Such extremes remain a fascinating window on Munch‘s ;

very personal dark night of the soul. ‘I do not believe in the art.‘ he said. ‘which is not the compulsive result of Man‘s urge to open his heart.‘

Edvard Munch: Prints, Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, Fri 12 Jun-Sat 5 Sep.

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bis Francesca Woodman Last chance to catch this highly recommended showcase of Woodman's remarkable body of work, from 1972 to her untimely suicide in 1981 at the age of 22. Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sat 13 Jun.

«is Roni Horn: the tiniest piece of mirror is always the whole mirror Horn explores notions of ‘sameness’ and ‘difference' through her photographic portraits. See review, page 96. The Common Guild, Glasgow, until Sat 4 Jul. 7%: Thomas Houseago, Dieter Both 8: Andre Thomkins Group show featuring English-born artist Houseago, accompanied by work by Roth and Thomkins. See review, page 96. The Modern institute, Glasgow, until Tue 7 Jul.

3i: Lorna Macintyre: Sentences not only words Macintyre’s photography and metal, wood and glass sculptures, draw on the language of 19th-century symbolism to create analogies between man and nature and emphasise the mystical aspects of artistic creation. See review, page 96. Mary Mary, Glasgow, until Sat 77 Jul.

=ic Degree Shows A chance to catch the best in new artistic talent. See feature, page 30. Glasgow School of Art Degree Show 2009, Sat 73—Sat 20 Jun; Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show 2009, Art & Design: Sat 73— Tue 23 Jun; Architecture & Landscape Architecture: Sat 20 Jun—Thu 2 Jul.

=l= Edvard Munch Major exhibition of prints by the tormented Norwegian artist. See preview, left. Hunterian Gallery Glasgow, Fri 72 Jun—Sat 5 Sep.

1 1—25 Jun 2009 THE LIST 95