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Story of Edvard Munch
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Graphic Works of Edvard Munch
cover Edvard Munch 1863-1944 (Basic Series)

Russian painter Kasimir Malevich (1878-1935) is remembered primarily as the founder of the short-lived Suprematist movement in the 1920s. Yet his style varied quite a lot, tracing a curve from representation, followed by abstraction, and thence a return to the human figure. Similarly, Norwegian Edvard Munch (1863-1944) is so associated with his icon of angst, The Scream (1893), that his later, more painterly landscapes and portraits are often forgotten. Because these artists are best known for a small part of their output, these volumes, which review their entire careers, are particularly valuable. Textual matter is whittled to a minimum. Each volume contains just a pair of two-page essays: a terse biographical sketch followed by a succinct aesthetic commentary. As a result, these thin titles cannot be thought of as a source of anything but visual information, but they serve that purpose superbly. Their signature feature is the inclusion of numerous (60-70) high-quality color plates derived from every period in each artist's life. The 15th and 16th entries, respectively, in Abrams's excellent "Great Modern Masters" series, these books are identical in format to earlier titles focusing on such artists as Bacon, Chagall, Klee, and Matisse. The visual emphasis results in affordable supplements to better sources for biocritical information, like the Biographical Dictionary of Artists (Facts on File, 1995). Though not definitive, these two unique resources are highly recommended for all collections.

 

cover Edvard Munch : Starry Night

Of Edvard Munch's landscape paintings, Starry Night, executed in 1893, is one of the finest. It is the founding version of his later renditions wherein mood and content vary between two extremes: exultation in the beauty of a landscape he loved deeply and pessimism resulting from his sense of personal loneliness and artistic isolation. This well-illustrated monograph includes notes and bibliography as well as a color fold-out reproduction of Starry Night.

 

cover Edvard Munch : The Complete Graphic Works

This definitive updating and expansion of previous catalogs dating from the 1920s will remain the chief reference for Munch's graphic oeuvre for a long time to come. Woll, the senior curator of prints and drawings at the Munch Museum in Oslo, has spent 15 years studying the 17,000 sheets there and a further 6000 impressions in public and private collections worldwide to establish the 748 separate works representing Munch's graphic production (all are reproduced here, many in color). Appendixes list related drawings, reproductions, fakes, major print exhibitions of Munch's work, and a concordance with the earlier catalogs by Gustav Schiefler. Woll provides a clear and informative 25-page overview of Munch's 50 years of printmaking, but the bulk of the text is the 390 pages of catalog entries. Each entry gives the title in English, Norwegian, and German; date, dimensions, and medium; and a careful physical description of the print and any variants. Four pages of the essay in the review copy were misprinted from the German edition, and though the publisher claims that this problem has been caught, libraries should check their copy on receipt. Despite some other generally minor typographical errors throughout and the volume's high price, this will be absolutely essential for research collections and for those interested in the graphic arts.

 

cover The Symbolist Prints of Edvard Munch

The artwork in The Symbolist Prints of Edvard Munch is so beautifully reproduced that one might be tempted to tear out pages, frame them and hang them on the wall. Munch's work, which constitutes some of the 20th century's greatest printmaking, is presented through the lens of an extraordinary private collection that includes almost every one of his prints along with alternate versions and early sketches. Elizabeth Prelinger's essays provide background on Munch's life, printmaking techniques, and the development of his symbolist aesthetic. An exciting element of the book is an evocative essay by renowned critic, Peter Schjeldahl, who, in inimitable style, likens Munch's effect on the viewer to that of listening to the early work of a favorite rock-star. Published on the occasion of an exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario in early 1997, this book provides excellent documentation of an artist whose work remains vital more than fifty years after his death.