I knew ahead of time that I would have a strong reaction to Edvard Munch’s paintings just from reproductions I have seen in the past. Something so personal about the anguish of life that Munch created on canvases–what we humans experience, but don’t dare talk about is what drew me to this museum.
But on arrival at the Museum, I was immediately drawn to a contrasting side of Munch shown in “the Voice,” first created in 1893 for “Study for a Series: Love,” but in 1894 becoming one of his paintings for “The Frieze of Life.” I liked the caption on the poster written in English…to explain to myself life and its meaning. To me, the woman in “Voice” is living in the moment, being, thinking and unusually at one with herself. It made me think that to know anguish and pain, you also have to know joy and contentment.
I was riveted to the 1894 painting “Ashes” because of the power of the woman in body, even though she herself seems lost–not just the cowering man holding his head. One review I read suggests the painting “depicts the end of a love affair, with the man in despair and the woman indifferent…the death of love.” I don’t see that there was ever much love there…but passion, yes.
A study for the 1910-2 painting “Galloping Horse” also caught my attention. It is a reverse image to the painting, a powerful wild-eyed horse galloping down the street, people strewn to the side, jutting mountains in the background forming a V as if making way for the dominant horse to be the one FORCE seen.
We left the deeply impressionist/symbolic work of Munch, to enter the present reality of today…shopping for a Norwegian sweater. If you’ve never had one, I will let you in on a secret truth: they last a lifetime. (I still have one from when I was thirteen, one my cousin Lillebeth knitted for me when I was sixteen, and one I bought for myself when I was visiting Mom in Norway with my kids when they were children.)
While Paul went off to look for batteries and SanDisks for his camera, I sweater shopped. And after several hours at several stores, chose a beautiful dark gray and off-white one with a dusty pink scarf for Cora.
On the way back to Lillebeth’s house, we made it to the American Embassy just in time to pick up my passport! Actually, Paul ran ahead lickety-split, and pleaded with the guard to let me in. We were about two minutes late. The guard probably thought THOSE… AMERICANS!
We were a very tired duo when we finally made it back to Lillebeth’s house. She had gone onto Kristiansand to start her summer vacation. She left us her house, an elk steak to cook, and an extraordinary dessert in her fridge: pommes d’amour. One bite of the nutty, buttery, liqueury dessert and I was back in my aunt Tattie’s (my Norwegian grandfather’s sister’s house) for tea. Or was it afternoon coffee?
Next morning, we made our own coffee on Lillebeth’s unusual stove and once again ate some pommes d’amour. There is a God! We locked up the house according to instructions, and a little sadly, wheeled our suitcases to the bus on our way to see Vigeland Park before we caught our train to Kristiansand.