Bad-boy artist Melgaard’s Munch pairing ‘unworthy’

An exhibition showing an image of a painting by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch with a penis cut and pasted onto it has been condemned by one of the artist's descendants as “unworthy” and “undignified”.

Bad-boy artist Melgaard's Munch pairing 'unworthy'
Photo: Cornelius Poppe / NTB scanpix
The exhibition, ‘Melgaard + Munch: The end of it all has already happened’, at Olso’s Munch Museum, pairs the Scream painter with New York-based bad-boy artist Bjarne Melgaard. 
Many of the Melgaard works displayed reference pornography and paedophilia, while a replication of Munch’s painting ‘Puberty’, which depicts a young girl sitting naked on a bed, is shown with a penis stuck onto it. 
“I think what they have done with 'Puberty' is unworthy. It is not a pleasant picture,” Elisabeth Munch Ellingsen complained to Aftenposten, saying she had met the museum to complain. “I like art to be provocative and believe we must tolerate different perspectives and interpretations. In this case, I am concerned that we as heirs, along with Oslo Municipality, must preserve the dignity of Munch and his works.” 
The exhibition’s creator Lars Toft-Eriksen said Munch Ellingsen risks “stifling artistic expression”. 
“I think the term ‘dignity’ is very problematic when it comes to artistic expression,” he said. “If we begin using such concepts we will begin to accept ethical limitations to artistic expression.” 
On February 15, the art historian Hilde MJ Liljebrunn wrote in a letter to Aftenposten that the exhibit was “violent towards the audience and Munch's art” and should be closed. 
The art historian Tommy Sørbø told Afternposten that the exhibition was clearly designed to provoke. 
“It serves as a provocation but provocation is not synonymous with artistic quality,” Sørbø said. “It does take away a little of the ceremony and aura around Munch and to that extent, I think it works.” 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Munch wrote ‘madman’ tag on ‘Scream’ painting, museum rules

A mysterious inscription on Edvard Munch's famed painting "The Scream" has baffled the art world for years, but Norwegian experts have now concluded it was written by none other than the artist himself.

Munch wrote 'madman' tag on 'Scream' painting, museum rules
File photo: AFP

Barely visible to the naked eye, the phrase “Can only have been painted by a madman” is written in pencil in Norwegian in the upper left corner of the iconic artwork.

The dark painting from 1893, now a symbol of existential angst, depicts a humanlike figure standing on a bridge, clutching its head in apparent horror against the backdrop of a swirling sky.

The author of the phrase has long been a mystery, with the main theory until now holding that it was a disgruntled viewer who penned it at the beginning of the 20th century on one of the four versions made by Munch.

But, using infrared technology to analyse the handwriting, experts at Norway’s National Museum have now concluded that it was the artist himself. 

“The writing is without a doubt Munch’s own,” museum curator Mai Britt Guleng said in a statement.

“The handwriting itself, as well as events that happened in 1895, when Munch showed the painting in Norway for the first time, all point in the same direction.”

The first showing of the work to the public in Oslo — then known as Kristiania — provoked furious criticism and raised questions about Munch’s mental state, which, according to Guleng, likely prompted Munch to write the inscription on the canvas shortly afterwards.

A pioneer of expressionism, Munch was haunted by the premature deaths of several family members, including his mother and his sister Johanne Sophie, due to illness. In 1908, he was temporarily committed to a psychiatric hospital.

This version of “The Scream” was stolen in 1994, the opening day of the Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer. It was recovered several months later.

The masterpiece will again go on display when the National Museum reopens in a new building in 2022.

READ ALSO: ‘The Scream’: newly-released Munch originals reveal different look