Thursday, February 16, 2006

Munch and Punch

The T.D. crew caught a glimpse of the Munch opening last night at MoMA. It was crowded and fancy. We drank some whiskey and debated the pronunciation of his name. Is it supposed to rhyme with "bunch?" Or is it like "monk?" Or is it like "moonk?"

The show opens with "The Dance of Life." You'll also see some early oils on canvas and cardboard, including a chilling early self-portrait. A version of "Vampire" hangs nearby, different than that at the Met. The famous "Madonna" is on the same wall. (If you omit the woman's head, then it looks phallic - see illus. at right.) Several takes on "The Kiss" are grouped together and there's a version of "By the Deathbed." A print of "Puberty" is there, but not the painting, and "The Scream" is tied up in someone's basement.

Later in the show, we drooled over a giant triptych of men on the beach, elements of which reminded us of Cezanne's "The Bather." The colors are daring and he uses these insistent, parallel brushstrokes, almost like a weaving pattern. The 2 panels come from different collections, so the frames are mismatched. There's also a giant drawing of Nietzsche - did you know Munch was a Nietzsche reader? Me neither. I would have guessed Schopenhauer.

Finally, we stumbled into the smoldering "Self-portrait with a Burning Cigarette." It's chilling and magnetic, unlike some of Beckmann's self-portraits, in which he looks like a manicured dandy compared to the corpse-like Munch. Munch began in that dark, tormented place and returned
to it later in his career. There's a "setpoint theory" of Munch's sensibility. Even if he could evade his demons for a while, it wouldn't last, and he would always return to them.

Note, it's actually pronounced like this: Edvart Mungk. Not like "bunch" or "moonk." It's more like "foot" or "put." I found this on bartleby dot com.
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