The AAAS journalism awards reception is always a good show. This year’s party was at the Art Institute of Chicago. The highlight was a temporary exhibition on Edvard Munch. You know him – he did the Scream. He was Norwegian, and generally remembered as nutso. He did have problems with anxiety and misery and whatnot, but the exhibit argues that he was a lot more complicated and interesting than the caricature of the suffering artist. They put Munch’s art in the context of contemporaries, from Norway and beyond.
Friend and fellow science writer Erik asked, astutely, if we’d be looking at Munch’s art if it weren’t for the Scream being so famous. I think a curator at a major art museum probably wouldn’t have been allowed to mount a big Munch exhibit if it weren’t for the Scream. Without the Scream, he might not have been famous enough to get tagged with a stereotype. But I still think he was pretty great and worth devoting an exhibit to.
I think the later work won Erik over, too – the first few rooms were less Munch-y, as he messed around with Impressionism and other stuff that didn’t really suit him. It reminded me of something I read recently about genius being the ability to be most like yourself. I really like Munch after he settled down and started making Munch-like art. His earlier stuff – eh.