With approximately 140 works that have rarely if ever been exhibited in Germany, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein- Westfalen presents the “unknown” Edvard Munch (1863 – 1944) at the K20. These paintings, prints, and sculptures were selected by Karl Ove Knausgård (*1968). The internationally celebrated writer, a native Norwegian like Munch himself, achieved worldwide fame with his six-volume autobiographical novel, which has been translated into more than 30 languages and has received numerous prizes. His decidedly personal point of view opens up a fresh perspective of a man who was, arguably, the most important representative of the Scandinavian avant-garde of the early 20th century, while highlighting the continuing relevance of Munch’s concern with the embeddedness of the individual in society

Knausgård explores the painter’s inner world while tracing Munch’s various artistic preoccupations. The author’s subjective approach results in a subdivision of the exhibition into 4 thematic areas:

“Light and Landscape” presents shorelines and gardens, but also scenes of people working in the fields. It is followed by “The Forest”, with its views of trees and meadows – here is a natural world that retains the upper hand in relation to human endeavors. “Chaos and Energy” provides insights into the emotional and psychological forces that drove the painter, and into his struggle with each work. Complementing this focus on Munch’s interior life is the conclusion, “The Others”, which features images of friends and comrades and focuses on the ways in which the individual reasserts control over reality.

The exhibition has been organized by the Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway, in partnership  with Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. It takes place parallel to the  Frankfurt Book Fair, which names Norway its guest of honor and center of attention in 2019.

Edvard Munch, The Sun, 1912, oil on canvas, 123 × 176,5 cm, Munchmuseet, Oslo
Edvard Munch, Under the stars, 1900–05, oil on canvas, 90 × 120 cm, Munchmuseet, Oslo
Edvard Munch, Starry Night, 1900–1901, oil on canvas, 59,5 x 74 cm, Museum Folkwang, Essen
Edvard Munch, Old Man with Naked Woman on his Lap, 1913–15, Öl, oil on canvas, 65 × 99 cm, Munchmuseet, Oslo
Edvard Munch, Ludvig Meyers Kinder, 1894, Öl auf ungrundierter Leinwand, 105 × 124,2 cm, Kunstmuseum Bern, Schenkung Stiftung Gemäldesammlung Emil Bretschger, 1988
Edvard Munch, Liegender Akt, 1913–14, oil on canvas, 80 × 100 cm, bpk, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Elke Walford

Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch in his atelier in Ekely, 1933 or earlier, © O. Varing Eftf. Archiv Munch-Museum, Oslo, Ragnvald Varing

Edvard Munch (18631944) is one of the most important artists of the early 20th century. He was a pioneer of Expressionism and unique with his stylistical and technical inventions in terms of graphic reproduction. The norwegian artist created, since the 1880s, various worldwide renowned paintings for example "The Scream" or "The Sick Child". After his return to Norway 1909, his work changed immensely he created winter landscapes, flower gardens and life-size portraits with unexpected serenity.

Karl Ove Knausgård

Portrait Karl Ove Knausgård © Thomas Wågström

Karl Ove Knausgård was born in 1968. He is considered to be the most important Norwegian author today. The six novels of his autobiographical project “My Struggle” (“Min Kamp”) were a global sensation and set new literary standards. They have been translated into more than thirty languages and earned him numerous accolades. In 2015, Knausgård received the literary prize awarded by the German daily newspaper Die Welt, followed, in 2017, by the Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature. Karl Ove Knausgård lives with his family in London.




If you are interested in the wide ranging program which explores the exhibition context of "Edvard Munch - seen by Karl Ove Knausgård", please visit the German version of this site.

Artist Talk: Karl Ove Knausgård and Peter Doig on November 24 at K20 (in English)

Karl Ove Knausgård, the curator of the current exhibition on Edvard Munch, and painter Peter Doig will meet on November 24 for an artist talk. Both are bound in a close artistic friendship. The event starts at 2pm, there are a limited number of seats at the Trinkaus Auditorium at K20, so please register.

Tickets ar available at the museum counter
Admission: 10,00 Euro, additional fee for the admission of the exhibition

Literature Event

with Paul Berf, translator of Norwegian and Swedish literature as part of the series "Auslese".

November 3, 2019, noon


Film screening

"The Other Munch" by Emil and Joachim Trier, 2018, 48 min., Norwegian with English subtitles.

Dec 4, 2019, 8 pm

Foto: Katja Illner


"Edvard Munch – seen by Karl Ove Knausgård"
with contributions by Karl Ove Knausgård and Anette Kruszynski

Published by Susanne Gaensheimer und Anette Kruszynski (Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf) and Stein Olav Henrichsen (Munch Museum, Oslo)

"So much longing in so little space" by Karl Ove Knausgård

In "So much longing in so little space", Karl Ove Knausgaard sets out to understand the enduring and awesome power of Edvard Munch’s work by training his gaze on the landscapes that inspired Munch and speaking firsthand with other contemporary artists.

Published by Penguin Random House.