Princeton University Art Museum Presents Edvard Munch: Symbolism in Print Feb. 8 through June 8, 2014



Exhibition offers rare opportunity to experience the artist’s most powerful compositions in prints

PRINCETON, NJ –Revered as one of the most emotionally powerful painters in modern art, Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863–1944) is also considered among the greatest printmakers of the modern period. Edvard Munch: Symbolism in Print, Masterworks from the Museum of Modern Art, New York traces the artist’s process of translating his personal meditations on the anxieties of life, sexuality, and death into graphic form in arresting etchings, lithographs, and woodcuts, often experimenting with the same image in more than one technique. The exhibition, which includes twenty-six of Munch’s signature prints, will be on view at the Princeton University Art Museum from February 8 through June 8, 2014.

“The repercussions of Munch’s achievement—his incisive commentary on the psychological tolls of modern life—continue to be felt throughout visual art and culture,” said Museum Director James Steward. “This exhibition reminds us that it is in his prints that we may find most forcefully the raw, unfiltered emotion of his images.”

A poetic visionary and master of the idiom, Munch was influenced by the emotional insights of Vincent van Gogh as well as the vibrant color and symbolic forms of Paul Gauguin, whose Tahitian woodcuts provided inspiration for Munch’s innovative development as a printmaker. Yet while Gauguin’s woodcuts evoked an imagined Polynesian idyll, Munch turned his prophetic vision inward, capturing what he perceived to be universal experiences of modern life and often drawing from personal memories of his often tragic past. In this way, Munch might incarnate better than any other artist the tenets of Symbolism, a movement that argued that art must reject rational naturalism and move beyond physical reality to embrace the imagination, dreams, and freedom from artistic convention. Best known for his painting The Scream (1893), seen by many as the perfect embodiment of modern-day psychic distress, Munch was in turn instrumental to the development of early twentieth-century European Expressionism. His vividly haunting images have resonated for more than a century, growing more relevant to contemporary sensibilities.

Edvard Munch: Symbolism in Print is organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, by Chief Curator Emerta Deborah Wey and Starr Figura, The Phyllis Ann and Walter Borten Associate Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books. The exhibition is curated at Princeton by Calvin Brown, Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Princeton University Art Museum.

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About the Princeton University Art Museum

Founded in 1882, the Princeton University Art Museum is one of the leading university art museums in the country. From the founding gift of a collection of porcelain and pottery, the collections have grown to more than 82,000 works of art that range from ancient to contemporary and concentrate geographically on the Mediterranean regions, western Europe, China, the United States, and Latin America.

Committed to advancing Princeton’s teaching and research missions, the Art Museum serves as a gateway to the University for visitors from around the world. The Museum is intimate in scale yet expansive in scope, offering a respite from the rush of daily life, a revitalizing experience of extraordinary works of art, and an opportunity to delve deeply into the study of art and culture.

The Princeton University Art Museum is located at the heart of the Princeton campus, a short walk from the shops and restaurants of Nassau Street. Admission is free. Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. The Museum is closed Mondays and major holidays.

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