Visit Spiva to see Munch’s ‘experimental’ work

Dr Christine Bentley Gallery director and associate professor

I was asked to write this column to lure you to the MSSU Spiva Art Gallery.

 Dr. Christine Bentley

 To invite you to walk across campus and spend a few minutes to stand before the photographs of Edvard Munch, featured in our current exhibition, “The Experimental Self- Edvard Munch’s Photography.”

The Missouri Southern Spiva Art Gallery is only one of two U.S. venues for this show, previously in NYC, it will return to Norway after it closes on Oct. 19. 

Munch, known world-wide as the artist who painted The Scream (1893), experimented with photography on the side. 

His photographs offer a glimpse into his inner world and the photographic process from this era. Munch knew a “successful” photograph involved limited movement, resulting in clear lines and delineations of form. 

He purposely enacted scenes where either he or his subjects were in motion, resulting in the blurred, ghostlike imagery seen throughout his images in the exhibition. 

His images are not typical of late 19th and early 20th century photography, he was well aware of the imperfections found within. This was a bold move away from the emerging conventions of traditional photography.

He experimented with the content and style of his photographs in a similar manner as seen in his paintings, which also thwarted tradition. 

Every art historian or artist has a top 10 list of who they consider to be the most influential artists throughout history. 

We often find ourselves chasing greatness: traveling great distances, applying for travel grants, and organizing student trips to stand in front of those canonical works of art featured in our textbooks.

Most of us are so enamored with art that we are thrilled to witness the lesser known works by those historical giants. 

Although, we usually do not prioritize art experience; as our personal and professional growth comes from these moments. 

These are the moments that define us, in one way or another, these are the moments that push or pull our own creative genius. 

So, to have works of art, by Edvard Munch on campus, to stand before his rare, unfiltered, photographs is a big deal to those of us in the art department. 

Our job on campus is to teach you how to understand art, how to look at art, how to create art…that is why we want you to walk across campus and view Edvard Munch’s photographs. 

We want you to share this very special, very rare moment with us. And, if that doesn’t convince you to visit the MSSU Spiva Art Gallery for this exhibition…did I mention he is the artist that painted The Scream?!


Note: The exhibition has been organized by the American-Scandinavian Foundation / Scandinavia House in partnership with the Munch Museum, Oslo. 

It was originally presented at Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America from November 21, 2017 to April 7, 2018.

Financial Assistance for this project has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.