Monday, February 23, 2009

Munch Exhibit, II

I'm looking through my copy of Edvard Munch: The Modern Life of the Soul, published by the Museum of Modern Art and I'm so disappointed now to be looking at representations of the works rather than the works themselves.

The Munch exhibit in Chicago was haunting and unforgettable and took me into the maelstrom of some difficult emotions. I've always felt this is a trip worth taking because the end result is exhilarating. I just can't shake the feeling of having seen Munch's work, the real canvases and papers of Munch.

I've always loved Munch's art. I think it is his preoccupation with sex and death that has drawn me to him. Sex and death has always been a preoccupation of mine and has shown itself in my fiction. When I was a young art student at East Carolina University, Munch's painting Puberty (1894-5) was always beside me. At the Chicago exhibit, I learned there is an etching (I think it is called Le Plus Bel Amour de Don Juan, created in 1886) that probably served as inspiration for Munch's work. The description of Le Plus Bel Amour suggested that the girl is afraid she has been impregnated because she has sat on a chair recently vacated by Don Juan.

Munch definitely made the subject his own; his girl is much more uncomfortable than the girl in Le Plus Bel Amour; I'd say she's morbidly shy. The shadow behind her is a Munch touch. It is menacing. It has been described as phallic.

The painting always spoke to me of my own shyness as a girl and my fear and fascination of sex from an early age.

Adolescence can be a scary time for girls.

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"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken

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The Secret of Hurricanes : That article in the Waterville Scout said it was Shake- spearean, all that fatalism that guides the Kennedys' lives. The likelihood of untimely death. Recently, another one died in his prime, John-John in an airplane. Not long before that, Bobby's boy. While playing football at high speeds on snow skis. Those Kennedys take some crazy chances. I prefer my own easy ways. Which isn't to say my life hasn't been Shake-spearean. By the time I was sixteen, my life was like the darkened stage at the end of Hamlet or Macbeth. All littered with corpses and treachery.

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