Tracey Emin and Edvard Munch in Conversation at RA

November 16, 2020

The dialog between the artists from the past and the ones belonging to the present can unravel interesting liaisons when it comes to the exploration of a specific subject matter and can bring to light an array of fascinating cultural, social, or even political implications.

The upcoming exhibition under the title The Loneliness of the Soul to be unveiled at The Royal Academy of Arts in London will focus on the works of the celebrated Expressionist Edvard Munch (1863-1944) and Tracey Emin RA (b.1963), who was inspired by his oeuvre.

Tracey Emin - Because you left, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 25.2 x 30.3 cm. Private collection. © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2020

When Two Worlds Collide

Although active in two distinct contexts, the two artists share an interest in exploring similar subjects such as loss, grief, and longing.

At the beginning of her career, Tracey Emin was fascinated by Expressionism, especially the paintings by Egon Schiele and Edvard Munch, both of whom nurtured a remarkable exploration of the complexities of the human condition.

For this particular exhibition, the artist selected nineteen of Edvard Munch’s masterpieces loaned from the Munch Museet in Oslo which feature his specific relationship with the female sex. Tormented by the tragic loss of his mother and his beloved sister a few years later, as well as a series of love affairs that left him heartbroken, the renowned master uniquely explored the feminine principle similarly to Emin.

Left: Edvard Munch - Seated Female Nude, 1923–1933. Watercolor, 34.9 x 26 cm. Munchmuseet / Right: Tracey Emin - You Kept it Coming, 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 152.3 x 152.3 x 3.5 cm. Xavier Hufkens, Brussels © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2020

The Installment

The visitors will be able to experience well-known works such as The Death of Marat, 1907 (Munch Museet, Oslo) which refers to Jacques-Louis David’s famous painting of the same title made in 1793. Munch found this historical narrative appealing on a personal level after he suffered from a difficult breakup with a woman he had been engaged to for many years.

Side by side to Munch's works will be twenty-five of Emin’s artworks such as paintings, neons, and sculptures that illustrate her continued interest in the intimate exploration of the body as a battleground. Just like Munch, Emin is bold enough to express through her work the impact various events had on her private life. The best comparison could be traced in the paintings such as You were here like the ground underneath my feet and Because you left, both made in 2016, that feature her commitment to the exploration of complex emotions.

Edvard Munch - Female Nude, 1919–1924. Watercolor, 95.2 x 60 cm. Munchmuseet

Emin and Munch at The Royal Academy

Needless to say, the show will bring a new interpretation on the ends of both artists whose practices were often perceived during their lifetime as controversial regardless of the media.

Originally scheduled to open on November 15, 2020, the exhibition Tracey Emin / Edvard Munch: The Loneliness of the Soul will be on display at The Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries within the Royal Academy of Arts in London will be on view as soon as lockdown restrictions in the United Kingdom are lifted.

Featured images: Tracey Emin - There was so much more of me, 2019. Bronze, 92 x 242 x 140 cm. © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2020; Edvard Munch - Crouching Nude, 1917-1919. Oil on canvas, 70 x 90 cm. Munchmuseet. All images courtesy Royal Academy of Arts.

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