Collection: Edvard Munch: Trembling Earth

Museum Barbarini

November 18, 2023 – April 1, 2024

Edvard Munch's art is known for its vivid depictions of deeply human feelings. However, his fascination with nature plays an equally important role in his art and is now being addressed for the first time in an exhibition. Edvard Munch: Trembling Earth investigates the meaning of such images in Munch’s oeuvre, questioning common assumptions and examining the contemporaneous artistic, scientific, and philosophical influences that contributed to his understanding of nature.

While Edvard Munch viewed nature as a cyclically self-renewing power, he also saw it as a mirror of human emotions. His interest in the psychological dimensions of existence, however, was matched by an equally strong fascination with nature. Employing his unique sensibility and power of imagination, Munch explored motifs taken from nature, seeking to fathom humanity’s place in the cosmic cycle of life. Munch developed a pantheistic understanding of nature, which he projected onto the forests and coasts of Norway. With motifs ranging from undulating coastlines and fairytale forests to snow-covered or stormy landscapes, luxuriant gardens, and the exuberant play of sun, air, and water, Munch’s work also resonates with the present-day climate crisis against the backdrop of current natural catastrophes.

In Edvard Munch's time, the understanding of nature changed radically. Under the impact of new discoveries in biology, physics, medicine and geology, nature was no longer perceived as something static and tangible, but as something dynamic that is constantly in motion. People developed an awareness of processes that are invisible to the naked eye - be they slow changes of great magnitude such as continental drift and the evolution of species, or the teeming of bacteria visible only under a microscope. The boundaries between humans and animals, between plants and minerals, shifted, blurred and were partly abolished.

In many works Edvard Munch put this lively, dynamic and changing nature into the picture. Thunderstorms, human interventions in nature are just as pictorial themes as moving earth masses with humanized features. Intertwined bodies unite with the earth. In some pictures Munch let man and woman float weightlessly through space. In a text he described this subject thus: "The fates of men are like the planets; they meet in space, only to disappear again at once." In this way, the artist related man's drives and desires to cyclical, universal forces.

The exhibition brings together more than 110 loans from institutions including the Munchmuseet, Oslo, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, the Museum Folkwang, Essen, and the Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal.

Edvard Munch: Trembling Earth is co-organized by the Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts; the Museum Barberini, Potsdam, Germany; and Munchmuseet, Oslo, Norway.

18 products
Woman with Pumpkin by Edvard Munch
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Beach by Edvard Munch
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Dark Spruce Forest by Edvard Munch
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Self-Portrait in Front of the House Wall by Edvard Munch
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Starry Night by Edvard Munch
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The Fairytale Forest by Edvard Munch
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The Girl by the Window by Edvard Munch
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Summer Night by the Beach by Edvard Munch
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Moonlight by Edvard Munch
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Starry Night by Edvard Munch
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Train Smoke by Edvard Munch
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Summer Night. The Voice by Edvard Munch
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Madonna by Edvard Munch
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Anxiety by Edvard Munch
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Red and White by Edvard Munch
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The Yellow Log by Edvard Munch
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The Sun by Edvard Munch
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The Scream by Edvard Munch
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