- Confrontation. Seeing all the wonderful colour plates side by side, page after page of both artists is a just a feast for the eyes. We can see when the artists tackled similar subjects, experimented with changes in their colour palette, or both toyed with a technique after their exposure to French painting. The affinity between both artists has been written about since 1897 and after having seen more than one stand-alone exhibition for each artist, I was not really sure this book would still be able to surprise. But surprise and delight it did.
- Breadth. Perhaps because so much has been said already about both artists and their status in the history of modern art, most new exhibitions focus on a very specific aspect of their creative activity or period. What I really liked about this book is that the different essays cover their entire spectrum of creative activity, from the formative years at home to their time in Paris and beyond. It showcases in a straightforward manner the variety of techniques and influences as each developed their own language.
- The cycle essay. We are so used to seeing the masterpieces as center stage pieces on their own, that it is not obvious anymore that many could have been conceived as part of a full artist series. The essay by Uwe Schneede corrects this perception and made me look at the Yellow House in Arles with new eyes. This essay also brings across concisely and clearly where the essential difference between Munch and Van Gogh’s art lies. This is the one spoiler I will not give away here.
Finally, whether you are gazing at a summer night in Oslo or a wheatfield in the Provence, with such bold colours this feels like the right season to leaf through these pages.
Munch : Van Gogh