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Edvard Munch: Breathe, Feel, Suffer and Love

Modernism is presenting a major exhibition of prints and drawings by the legendary Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944). Encompassing thirty works produced between 1894 to 1930, the exhibition complements a concurrent retrospective of Munch's paintings at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The Modernism exhibition features some of Munch's most famous images, including The Sick Child, Madonna, and The Kiss – painted versions of which are simultaneously on view at SFMOMA – affording viewers a rare opportunity to see how he treated key themes including death and love in diverse media.

Printmaking was central to Munch's practice, and works on paper were as significant to him artistically as oils on canvas. Over the course of five decades, beginning in 1894, he printed some eighteen thousand impressions, representing hundreds of motifs, realized as etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, and mixtures of these techniques. The bulk of this oeuvre is now in Oslo's Munch-museet, which inherited his personal collection upon his death. Decades of scholarship by that museum, as well as institutions such as the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC – have revealed the extraordinary richness of his graphic art, and its intimate relationship to his paintings and drawings. As Munch wrote in an 1889 diary entry, his artistic aim was to show "living people who breathe, feel, suffer and love". By creating multiple variations on a print over a period of decades – and using prints as inspiration for subsequent drawings and paintings and prints – he was able to explore his innermost feelings through countless expressionistic permutations on the living people who stirred his own love and suffering.

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