This was the big story in the winter of 1931 when the Society of Scottish Artists took the highly controversial decision to invite the Norwegian painter and printmaker Edvard Munch to exhibit at their 38th Annual Exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy – an invitation that sparked a huge debate about ‘modernism’ within Scottish art and about national art and identity. Just over eighty years later Munch is again in the headlines with the sale of his painting The Scream for £74 million. This record breaking event coincides with an exhibition of graphic works by Munch at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art’s Modern Two (formerly the Dean Gallery) in Edinburgh until 23rd September. The exhibition also contains a display about the link between the Society of Scottish Artists and Edvard Munch. On show are a number of press cuttings and photographs relating to the 38th Annual Exhibition as well as the hand-written minutes of the Council meeting from the the Society of Scottish Artist’s archives detailing the decision to invite Munch.

Edvard Munch
Graphic Works from The Gundersen Collection
7th April − 23rd September 2012

National Galleries – Munch and Scotland
‘The show was organised by the Society of Scottish Artists (SSA), whose aims were to ‘stimulate … younger artists to produce more original and important works, and to procure for its annual exhibition interesting and educative examples of various schools of contemporary art’. Comprising twelve paintings, including figurative compositions and landscapes, it opened as part of the annual SSA exhibition on 28 November 1931. By the time it had closed on 9 January 1932 a debate had been played out in the letters pages of The Scotsman and thanks to the furore, record visitor numbers had been received. Despite the critics, the exhibition provided an opportunity for artists in Scotland to see Munch’s work and his influence has been identified in the work of figures such as William Gilles and William MacTaggart who were inspired by the artist’s expressionist handling of colour and form.’

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