From Impressionism to Munch, National Gallery of Norway

From Impressionism to Munch (room 15 to room 20) is the third part of the exhibition “Dance of Life”. The following general trend towards France is represented by a first class selection of French impressionists and neo-impressionists. Important works in this selection by Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin as well as works on paper by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec can be presented in a dialogue with their Norwegian contemporaries between realism, neo-impressionism and symbolism. Here the key works are by Christian Krohg, Harriet Backer and Erik Werenskiold as well as by leading Danish and Swedish artists. The National Museum has a large number of important Norwegian graphic works from 1870 until 1910, among them many illustrations of Norwegian fairy tales.

The works by Edvard Munch can not be seen independently from these predecessors and contemporaries. His 58 paintings and 175 works on paper can be regarded as the most important part of the collection of modern art. The early versions of the famous paintings The Scream, Madonna, The Sick Child, Dance of Life and Puberty are outstanding masterpieces, not only in Norwegian art but also in modern art as a whole. Parallel to Munch’s later work the collection offers a comprehensive survey of his Norwegian contemporaries in the early 20th century like Harald Sohlberg, Henrik Sørensen, Ludvig Karsten and the sculptor Gustav Vigeland. Munch’s influence on German expressionism can be demonstrated by means of important oil paintings and graphic works by for example Ernst Ludwig Kirchner or Emil Nolde.

The Dance of Life
With more than 4,000 paintings, 1,000 sculptures and nearly 50,000 works on paper, the National Gallery’s art collection is the most comprehensive and wide-ranging in Norway, and one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe. The public is invited on a journey through art history from antiquity to 1950, with an emphasis on Norwegian art after 1800.

Its central part is the most comprehensive collection of Norwegian art from the late 18th century until the end of World War II. It contains many iconic works, like the first painted version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream from 1893. Furthermore the collection deals not only with important chapters of the preceding art history but also with parallel developments in the northern countries and in Europe, so that Norwegian art can always be seen and experienced in context with other tendencies.

Edvard Munch and “The Scream”
The National Museum in Oslo holds one of the world’s most important collections of paintings by Edvard Munch (1863–1944), including such famous and iconic works as The Scream.

In the collection you will find the earliest versions of The Scream (1893), as well as Madonna (1894–1895), The Girls on the Pier (around 1901), The Dance of Life (1899–1900), and The Sick Child (1885–1886) – artistic statements that are captivating in their ruthless honesty and profound humanism.

The Scream
Painted in 1893, Munch’s iconic Scream was donated to the National Gallery in 1910. In terms of its fame, this painting now rivals works such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (1503) and Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (1888). Few artworks have inspired filmmakers, cartoonists and other artists to the extent that The Scream has done. The painting is a radical and timeless expression of human fear.

Munch in context
For those who want to learn more about Munch’s later art, we recommend the Munch Museum, which owns Munch’s extensive artistic estate, and KODE, Art Museums in Bergen. Munch’s house in Åsgårdstrand, which will soon be joined by his summer cottage in Hvitsten, both an hour’s drive from Oslo, offers a magical experience of Munch’s world and the landscapes that inspired him throughout his life.

National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design
The National Museum collects and preserves, exhibits and communicates the country’s most extensive collections of art, architecture and design.

The museum shows permanent exhibitions with works from their own collection and various exhibitions with borrowed and own works. The museum’s sights in Oslo are the National Museum – Architecture and Villa Stenersen . The National Gallery temporarily closed on January 13, 2019 . The Museum of Fine Arts closed October 16, 2016. The Museum of Contemporary Art closed September 3, 2017. The exhibition program also includes walking exhibitions at home and abroad.The new National Museum opens in 2020.

The museum presents a number of exhibitions with presentation of Norwegian and foreign art, architecture and design, both in the museum buildings in Oslo, in the rest of Norway through a nationwide program and abroad.

The museum aims to “raise the knowledge and commitment to visual arts, architecture, crafts and design, develop the critical sense, stimulate new recognition, create greater historical awareness and tolerance for diversity”.

The National Gallery and the Museum of Contemporary Art
Older and modern art is on show at the National Gallery, contemporary art at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The main emphasis of the collection is on Norwegian painting and sculpture from the 19th century. The museum also holds an extensive collection of drawings and prints by Norwegian and international artists. Highlights of the collection include major works by Edvard Munch, including The Scream. Other important artists are J.C. Dahl, Adolph Tidemand, Hans Gude, Harriet Backer and Christian Krohg. The collections from the 20th century illustrate the development of Norwegian fine art with reference to key works of Nordic and international art in the fields of painting, sculpture, photography, video and other media. Central to the collection of international contemporary art is Ilya Kabakov’s permanent installation The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away (1988–1995).

The National Gallery will remain a part of the National Museum and continue to exhibit art in the future.