Marvelous Munch

Munch by Ulrich Bischoff    Taschen (1992)

This book’s design , especially the bright red front flap with a quote by Munch, really brings the reader in. At least, I’m incredibly charmed by it. There are full page, all the way to the very edge of the page sometimes, glossy color reproductions of Munch’s works, it’s great.

The introduction emphasizes how important Munch’s history and journey are as an artist in appreciating his paintings and I couldn’t agree more. Death and illness haunted Munch throughout his life, his mother died when he was five, his sister died when he was fourteen, and his father died while he was an artist in Paris in 1889. His own work has a haunting feeling to it, and holds a lot of that fear of losing those Munch loved. Comparisons of Munch’s paintings with other works done by artists he admired allows for a detailed analysis and comparison of both.

The next section is about Munch’s aspiration to include ‘every aspect of human existence in one painting’, known as the ‘Frieze of Life’, covering how Munch comes into his own style. It includes separate quotes from Munch in the corners of the margins, allowing for a greater grasp of the thought behind his pieces (again kudos on the design of the book). The next section covers portraits, landscapes and self-portraits.

My main qualm with this book is the organization. It’s a bit here-and-there confusing, much like stumbling into different rooms in a museum without a map. It’s not as cohesive as I would like. However, the pictures are gorgeous, the text comprehensive, and Munch’s story is all there. Since the narrative jumps around there is a timeline at the back of the book, complete with black and white photos so, problem pretty much solved!

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