Sunday, November 11, 2012

Things I Liked at the Nasjonalgalleriet

Left: museum entrance, Universitetsgata 13, Oslo
Right: detail from "A Game Shop" by Frans Snyders (Flemish, c. 1600)

I must admit I'm not all that into Edvard Munch. There's an entire room devoted to his paintings at the National Gallery in Oslo, and more scattered around other areas of the exhibitions. And of course when you go into the museum through the front door, you go through screaming. I spent a pleasant two hours or so going through the exhibition titled "The Dance of Life: Antiquity to 1950" (taken from the name of an 1899 Munch painting), though I went fairly quickly through the "antiquity" part of the exhibit - I'd rather go to Greece to look at Greek statuary - until I got to the first of the Northern European painters. There were many more paintings I really enjoyed looking at, but these in particular caught my eye and invited me to stop and look more closely.

"The Golden Age" by Lucas Cranach, Weimar, Germany, c. 1590

Left: "Portrait of a Woman" by Jan A. van Ravesteyn, The Netherlands, 1635
Right: "Harry Potter" - sorry, "Self-Portrait" by Eilif Peterssen, Norway, 1876

"View from Bastei" by Johan Christian Dahl, Norway, 1819

I thought at first this was a landscape from the Southwest when I saw the mesas on the horizon, but Bastei is actually an area of massive sandstone formations near Dresden, Germany, on the Elbe River at the border of the Czech Republic. One more thing to add to the list of places to go see. The list keeps getting longer and longer. Northern Norway is also on the list, for more of the wild rocky landscapes like the one below, near Bergen.

"View of Fortundalen" by Johan Christian Dahl, Norway, 1836

This was the only Munch painting I really liked, and the only one I took a photo of. Maybe it was the subject matter - I do love Paris. But probably it's because this is one of his few paintings done in an Impressionist style. Art historian Ulrich Bischoff refers to them as "an island of tranquility in the vast and alarming turbulence of Munch's work in general at that period."

"Rue Lafayette" by Edvard Munch, Norway, 1891

I'm going to Paris next weekend for more art, an exhibit of paintings by Canaletto, and if I have time one at the Chinese Cultural Center, photographs of China from 1844. Maybe I'll stroll by Rue Lafayette and see what's going on there too.

A huge painting over the main staircase on the way up to the exhibit hall gives another view of the whole "discovering America" story, with no mention of Italy or Spain. From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam, God bless Vinland, my home sweet home!

"Leiv Eirikson Discovering America" by Christian Krohg, Norway, 1893

"Spring Flood" by Gustav Adolf Fjaestad, Sweden, 1909

I thought this was a photograph at first, and stared at it in fascination for many minutes, first moving closer and then backing away. For the most part I don't ever think about buying large pieces of artwork, due primarily to a lack of funds and permanent space to hang them, but also because I'd get bored with them after a while. The rent-a-painting schemes that many museums have always seemed to be a better option. However, I don't think I'd ever get tired of this work.

"Summer Night" by Harald Sohlberg, Norway, 1899

Not only the where of going back to Norway, but the when. I'd like to be there in the deep clear winter to watch the Northern lights dance above the waters of the high mountain lakes. I'd like to be there at midsummer when the afternoons stretch lazily out into luminous blue evenings. There is always more to see, to do, to explore.

"Å reise er å leve" - Hans Christian Andersen

"The Wood-Choppers" by Per Krohg, Norway, 1922


  1. Art! Ya got art!

    D'ya think the building in the Munch you like is the same as in the first Caillebotte painting here?

  2. Of course there's art - I'm in Europe!

    I don't know about the building - there are a lot of wedge-shaped buildings in Paris. But maybe.