The Scream (1910) welcomed its first show in Tokyo

After a project that was initiated more than six years ago by the Japanese media group Asahi Shimbun, Japanese audience are finally able to appreciate Edvard Munch'sThe Scream (1910) in person for the first time. Collaborating with the Munch Museum, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum is presenting Munch: A Retrospective until 20 January.

The exhibition features more than 100 works by Edvard Munch (1863-1944), including over 60 oil paintings.Prints, sketches and other works are displayed among well-known works such as Kiss, Vampire, and Starry Night. Portraits of family and friends along with paintings of vast landscapes showcase fresh, bright colours in thoughtful presentations.


The scene of the Munch Exhibition in Tokyo, ©Munchmuseet

The highlight of the show is The Scream, one of the most well-known artworks around the globe. Munch frequently reproduced the painting between 1893 and 1910. The displayed 1910 version currently showcasing in Tokyo is painted with tempera and oil. Philip Hook, senior director of Impressionist & Modern art at Sotheby's, has argued that The Scream is the second most immediately recognisable artwork after the Mona Lisa.

During Munch's 16-yearlong stay in Berlin, he created a collection to showcase the cycle of life. The collection is divided into four subjects: Seeds of Love, The Flowering and Passing of Love, Anxiety, and Death.

The Scream is from the category of Anxiety. The painting illustrates the common anxiety and despair of existential crisis that existed during his era In his diaries, Munch revealed his inspiration for the painting: "I was walking along the road with two friends – Then the sun went down – The sky suddenly turned to blood, and I felt a great scream in nature".

With flamboyant colours, large curving strokes, and the dramatic figure with a horrified expression, The Scream has become a symbol representing the human being's internal troubles.


Edvard Munch'sThe Scream (1910)


At the exhibition in Tokyo, visitors are encouraged to study Munch’s paintings and the motif behind them. Stein Olav Henrichsen, director of the Munch Museum, says: "We are experiencing great interest in Edvard Munch among the Japanese audience, including visitors to Norway. We think it's very important to show Munch's art to such an enthusiastic audience, and we look forward to sharing his great gift with the Japanese people.”

As Japanese colour woodcuts largely influenced western artists from the late 1800s, visitors can also sense some Japanese elements in Munch's exhibited artworks.

Nevertheless, visitors can not only see Japanese elements in Munch's paintings, but they can also buy them at the museum shop. From printing hand towelswith a Pikachu version of The Scream to having the famous image displayed on Pokemon cards, the organisers put forth their efforts to attract a bigger audience and to provide them a better visitor experience.


Derivative products at the museum gift shop

Fragileness—makes the The Scream (1910?) seldom shown to the public. Munch was passionate about experimental painting, using an array of media and tools. Conservators have found oil paints with beeswax, oil crayons, and other materials in different versions of The Scream. The mixed use of various specially made pigments makes the artworks hard to preserve and transport.“The Munch Museum very rarely lends the painted version of The Scream (1910?) to exhibitions and we, of course, always make a thorough assessment before doing so,”explains Henrichsen. To make sure The Scream can be safely exhibited in Tokyo, Munch Museum re-framed the painting very recently. The Japanese audience is the very first to see the painting in its brand new frame.

The exhibition itself has to meet high environmental and technical standards. Akiko Kobayashi, the curator of Munch's exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, says: "We have to be extra careful with the lighting, temperature and sterilisation, etc. The transportation, installation and protection of Munch collection take much more efforts than usual. The high treatment standards are the biggest challenge that we have to face in the curation process. Many of the exhibited pieces are rarely shown to the audience - even back in Munchmuseet Oslo.”

Despitethese obstacles, the Munch Museum is still able to promote Munch’s work to the world— this time in Japan. The Oslo-based Munch Museum is home to more than half of Edvard Munch's paintings. The museum has collaborated with different artists and museums all over the world to increase people's knowledge and understanding of Munch’s art. The Munch exhibition in Tokyo is just another example of success in promoting Munch overseas.

What other Exhibition to see around Ueno Park in 2019

In Ueno Area, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum is accompanied by the Tokyo National Museum, The National Museum of Western Art, and many other renowned cultural institutions. Here are some current and upcoming special exhibitions that worth a look around Ueno Park.


Ueno Park Museum map

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum —Gustav Klimt: Vienna-Japan 1900

Gustav Klimt was a leading Austrian symbolist painter and an essential member of the Vienna Secession movement. Like many western artists in the late 19th century, Klimt's work has been inspired by the Japanese art style. He is known for portraits of female bodies which manifest a frank eroticism. The exhibition, featuring more than 20 oil paintings by Klimt, including portrait Judith I, will be one of the largest Klimt display so far in Japan.

The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo — Rubens and the Birth of Baroque

This exhibition features around 70 works by Peter Paul Rubens, one of the preeminent representatives of Baroque art - a highly ornate and extravagant style - in Europe during the 17th century. Along with Rubens' paintings, the exhibition also presents ancient sculptures and works by Italian artists from the 16th century and the Baroque era. The exhibition will be on from 16 October to 20 January.