Some artists have created such indelible and iconic images that one work comes to encompass their whole legacy. While it takes a great genius to create such a work, what is unfortunate is that he or she may have created many more masterpieces that go unappreciated or are overshadowed by the artist’s previous success. In the case of Edvard Munch, he became so renowned and so famous for two or three pieces (namely The Scream, Puberty, and Madonna), that the rest of his extraordinary oeuvre has remained relatively obscure to the public. Most who know of Munch have one, two, or three images emblazoned in their mind’s eye and know little or nothing else of the Norwegian artist. They probably associate his work with Post-Impressionism and Proto-Expressionism during the fin-de-siècle. Few are aware that Munch continued to produce haunting and emotionally evocative work well into the early 1940s before his death at the age of 80 in 1944. Though the Nazis deemed his work “degenerate art” and had him banned, he has continued to inspire artists and aesthetes who see his work for its true value with all of its innovative technique, melancholy subject matter, and always relevant human themes. Munch deserves not only wider recognition of his works, but also a deeper understanding of his social importance within the art world, and this warrants another look, or perhaps a first look for many, of his genius.
Odilon Redon‘s artwork is extraordinarily unique and hard to describe. Whether working in colorful pastels, watercolors, or stark charcoal drawings, the images he created are remarkably vivid and dreamlike. Shifting in styles and genres from Post-Impressionism to Symbolism, his art is saturated with an emotional intensity that seems almost prophetic of future art movements such as Expressionism and Surrealism, yet he doesn’t seem to belong to any single movement. Rather, Redon’s skill was transcending the boundaries of what had come before and exploring what was yet to come, all the while journeying inward to a place of psychological conflict and spiritual awakening.
Controversial Masterpieces: Censorship Of Classical Art From The Renaissance Through The 19th Century
Whether the church’s chiseling the genitalia off of ancient statues or painting over blasphemous elements in a mural, art has been a contested territory, and there has been a long history of suppressing art that challenged the social mores of its day or expressed ideas deemed as obscene or heretical. Perhaps because art existed before the written word, before most other physical mediums of expression, it could be argued that art was the first form of communication outside of verbal speech to be censored. In the world of art, censorship often takes on three forms, either a work of art is expurgated (altered to exclude content that may offend), removed from public view, or destroyed altogether. The latter is rare since most cultures around the world hold art in high esteem and don’t wish to see its destruction regardless of its perceived objectionable qualities. Expurgation or obscurement has been more common.
Edvard Munch has long been one of my favorite artists in Modern Art. His Symbolist and Proto-Expressionist works have a deeply personal connection with me. Somehow, they reach into my psyche, wrenching my emotions and thoughts from within and allow them to materialize in paint. Munch’s art worked on two psychological levels at once, both conjuring up primitive emotions from our personal past while at the same time juxtaposing it with his knowledge of archetypal characters from our collective past. I love the way his artwork, much like Franz Kafka‘s writings, tap into those deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy, guilt, regret, lust, and utter despair. Utilizing bold brush strokes and vibrant colors and contrasting them with ambiguous shadows, Munch’s imagery carries with it all the complex emotions and mysteries of the human experience.