Cool’n crazy sights in Norway Nr 7. Munch Museet in Oslo
The Munch Museet is a pleasurable distraction, if you cherish fin de siecle drama on canvas, like my dedicated self. Munch, the Norwegian artist, definitely had some psychological issues, which he transformed into impressive-distressing colour choices and composition. Femme fatale, seductive and mysterious, tragic beauties, well captured in moments of contemplation and various states of disturbance, despair and expressive positions.
The Munch Museet.
I saw Munch’s ‘Scream’ and was impressed by the intensity of the layered sky painted mainly with the colour of blood, and the protruding fetal face expressing serious anxiety. Munch was intrigued by the dominant sky above the fjord, and symptomatic for his illness heard some kind of a scream from nature, which he visualised in his most famous painting.
Public favourite and Munch’s darling, the red haired lover.
Here is a detail from one of the less popular works, probably showing how ‘The Scream’ looked like as an infant.
Or maybe Munch used this man’s great-grandfather as a model.
The Scream inspires art lovers and thieves alike. In 1994 the museum was visited by some vigilantes, who broke in, taking the Scream and leaving a thank you note, that read “Thanks for the poor security”. In 1988 Munch’s Vampire had been stolen by the same perpetrator. In 2004 two men walked in during daylight and out with the Scream and Madonna. I totally follow the desire to own a Munch and would have loved to ‘borrow’ these myself, but unfortunately my connections to the underground crime world are rather slim.
Every time the paintings have been recovered, however it wasn’t till the last theft that security was seriously improved. There is a major x-ray checkpoint and then a huge security counter inside, but the way paintings are stored/displayed just opposite the Munch Museet is somewhat intriguing.
Opposite the Munch Museet, the GAD is a mobile gallery for contemporary art consisting of ten containers.
The Mega control base inside the Munch Museet. I was too short too have a peek at what was going on behind that security counter.
Airport security. Smokers have to leave cigarette lighters behind.
Art corner for
kids everyone. Tomek patiently waiting for his turn.
This summer’s exhibition is named ‘Puberty’, according to Munch’s painting of a young girl, who sits naked on the edge of the bed, with her arms crossed protectively before her. After over ten years of restoration the painting is finally on public display again. The painting symbolises the disturbing changes when adulthood is approaching, and is the starting point for the exhibition, from where ninety works with links to the theme have been chosen for public viewing.
‘Puberty’ to the left, ‘Nude by the wicker chair’ on the right.
Munch had a tough childhood – dad was a doctor but foremost a religious fanatic, mum was half the age of dad and died during Munch’s childhood years, just as his sister. His other sister spent most of her life in a mental institution and his brother died at the age of only 30. Munch suffered from emotional problems and had been drinking heavily for years, eventually becoming an alcoholic. Maybe he was trying to self-medicate with alcohol, since he seems to have experienced auditory and visual hallucinations throughout his life. The fascinating fruits of creativity and mental illness.
‘Anxiety’ and ‘Despair’ are the names of the paintings.
Symbols of anxiety, age, fragility and defiance.
Munch had a love affair with a dominating older woman, whom he depicted as a vampire in his painting of the same name.
Female motifs and the thematic studies of the relationship between man and women crop up in many variations.
Unfortunately my Munch favourite, the ‘Madonna’, was missing, so I treated myself to a button with her black and white portrait. And the exhibition poster with ‘Puberty’. It was hard to resist the souvenir rubbers, pens and all the other buttons.
PS. In Norwegian it is pronounced ‘moonk’, not ‘moonch’!
Opening hours, admission (is 95 NOK) and directions: www.munch.museum.no
If you are going to do more sightseeing, get the Oslo Pass, a great saver while travelling in Oslo.