Two new exhibitions show how a Renaissance visionary and a misunderstood Norwegian eccentric changed the course of paintingby James Woodall / May 24, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in June 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
El Greco, The Opening of the Fifth Seal (1608-14): the bodies are vibrant, with exaggerated curves defining arms, thighs and calves
El Greco and Modernism
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, Germany. Until 12th August
Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye
Tate Modern, 28th June–14th October
This summer, a rare sequence of art events is bringing into focus the origins of European modernist painting. One of them, “The Modern Eye,” an exhibition of works by Edvard Munch opening in late June at Tate Modern, fits into the traditional narrative: the Norwegian is incontrovertibly a harbinger of 20th-century art. Another Munch-connected event has been a high-profile auction of his famous work The Scream in New York.
A third event is more unexpected. In Düsseldorf’s Kunstpalast, situated in an art-deco complex on the east bank of the Rhine, the exhibition “El Greco and Modernism” is an exuberant, densely intelligent attempt by curator Beat Wismer to show how deep the influence of the 16th century master was on a raft of artists in Germany before the first world war—most of whom had already been impressed by Munch’s troubling subject matter and brazen brush work.