Back to Edvard Munch
Hell (The Scream)
Sartre famously thought it was
other people. An art critic thought it was
being locked in a small room
with Edvard Munch for all eternity.
The Nordic Cartographer of Hell said,
“Disease and insanity were the black angels
at my cradle.”
His men and women writhe
in anguish – staggering from the canvas
into our cities, into our waiting rooms,
into our laps.
The scream crossing
the bridge reverberates throughout time and space,
turning Wordsworth’s view of nature
I went to an art gallery recently and bought an old exhibition catalogue titled Munch & Photography. (cost £1!) Munch used a camera and based some of his paintings on the photographs. He also got some strange effects with double exposures and with people moving on a long exposure.
Munch is of course the supreme artist of alienation – not many of his paintings are uplifting, or at least not many have the exuberance of colour and energy of, say, Van Gogh’s. They do however reflect the existential awareness of the modern era and Munch was among the first artists to do this. His first paintings were done in the 1880s.
I thought I’d try a series of poems triggered by his paintings. Here’s the first two. I’d welcome feedback as I’m not sure about continuing! There’s a good blog about art history here:
Self Portrait between Clock and Bed
The old artist stands between
a clock and a bed;
symbols of death the art critic said.
The paintings he’s painted
cover the walls, plastering over
the threatening days.
The artist’s face is gaunt and
the clock-face is painted out.
See time leaking from
the mantelpiece as Munch
opens the camera
shutter for Weeping Girl.
See a foggy figure behind
the bed: an ectoplasmic blur
toward the weeping girl