Located on Fifth Avenue and 86th Street, the Neue Galerie is one of the nine museums that constitute the famous Museum Mile. The Neue specifically concentrates on 20th-century German and Austrian art and design. Recently, it was home to an exhibit on Edvard Munch, the father of expressionism.
Born in Norway, Munch was inspired by the other-worldly, beautiful landscapes of his home country. Though Norway can be seen throughout his work, it was in Germany that he was recognized as the creator of a new epoch.
He gained attention there at the end of the 19th century because of the powerful symbolism of his works — his paintings overflowing with universal emotions such as anxiety (“The Scream,” “Puberty”), sadness (“Melancholy”) and lust (“Madonna”). He was interested in showing how strongly people feel emotions and what that looks like. That, along with some of the recurring topics of his work, such as mental illnesses, sexual liberation and the death and sickness that seemed to follow him since he was a boy, were some of the reasons why he gained a huge following of young German and Austrian artists.
Even though the whole curatorial selection of the exposition is superb, the most remarkable and magnificent part is the printmaking — a technique that Munch mastered in Germany by learning traditional woodcut techniques and then altering them to his own specifications.
The third floor of the Neue is filled with many prints of the same subjects, all made slightly different by using distinct colors that allow for different interpretations of the same image. One only needs to see the “Towards the Forest I” series to feel immersed in the love, intimacy and limitlessness that the work inspires. Each sentiment is a little different because of the colors — sometimes dark red, midnight blue and pure black, while others light with soft pinks and greens — used for every different print.
Perhaps his most famous work, “The Scream” is part of the collection (though not the original oil on canvas). It’s still an exhilarating thing to behold, and if you find yourself mouth open, jaws aghast — well, shrug it off before you mimic the artwork.