Museum Barberini will show the exhibition Lebenslandschaft by the artist Edvard Munch from 18 November 2023. This is the first exhibition on landscapes by Edvard Munch that focuses on his interaction with nature. On the one hand, Edvard Munch regarded nature as a cyclically self-renewing force; on the other, he saw in it a reflection of his own inner conflict. Munch developed a pantheistic understanding of nature, which he projected onto the forests and coasts of Norway. The dramatic weather he depicted in his paintings is particularly striking in view of the current climate crisis.
Fig. above: Edvard Munch, Summer Night by the Beach, 1902–03, Oil on canvas, 103 × 120 cm, Photo Österreichische Galerie Belvedere,Vienna
Edvard Munch’s art is primarily known for his striking explorations of deep human emotions. Throughout his career, however, his strong fascination with the natural world played as important a role as his interest in the psychological dimensions of existence. In keeping with his expansive imagination and sensibility, Munch explored natural motifs and the genre of landscape to question man’s place in the cosmic cycle of life and to celebrate the beauty of the elements and the transformative powers of nature.
Despite the prominent role nature plays in Munch’s work, there has been little sustained research on the subject. The exhibition Edvard Munch: Trembling Earth is the first major attempt to examine in depth the significance of Munch’s depictions of nature and to challenge commonly held notions. By presenting lesser-known works alongside some of his most famous paintings, Trembling Earth sheds light on the artistic, scientific and philosophical ideas that influenced Munch’s work and shows how his art relates to the current climate crisis. In Munch’s time, people were aware of the dangers of climate change that came with increasing industrialisation and urbanisation across Europe. At the same time, scientific breakthroughs were contributing to a new understanding of the complexity of the natural world. The multi-layered, open-ended nature of Munch’s visions makes his works highly relevant at a time haunted by the instability of natural systems and disturbing scenarios of future climate change.
Ortrud Westheider, director of Potsdam’s Museum Barberini: “Munch’s works remain unsurpassed in their emotional expressiveness and overwhelming modernity, and for good reason: for many people, his art is a symbol of their own feelings. With the first exhibition devoted exclusively to Munch’s landscape depictions, we are opening up a facet of his oeuvre that has hitherto been little represented, and the dramatic weather conditions in his paintings take on a special urgency, especially against the backdrop of the looming climate catastrophe. We are very fortunate to be able to show works of art from some of the most outstanding collections in the world, with the Munchmuseet in Oslo as the main lender and further loans from the Museum of Modern Art, New York, or the Dallas Museum of Art, among others.”
Trembling Earth is the result of a collaboration between the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA, Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany, and MUNCH in Oslo, Norway. For the institutions and the curatorial team – consisting of Jay A. Clarke (Rothman Family Curator, Art Institute of Chicago), Jill Lloyd (independent curator) and Trine Otte Bak Nielsen (curator, MUNCH) – the project provided an opportunity to develop research projects through fruitful dialogue.
Museum Barberini – Museums of the Hasso Plattner Foundation gGmbH
14467 Potsdam, Germany
Exhibition dates: Saturday, 18 November 2023 – Monday, 01 April 2024