Museum of Wisconsin Art Presents Charles Munch: Between the Lines 

Paintings Depict Complex Relationships Between Humans and Nature

January 4, 2019
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The Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA) is pleased to announce the upcoming exhibition, Charles Munch: Between the Lines, which features thirty works from four decades curated by Director of Exhibitions and Collections Graeme Reid. The exhibition will open with a party on Saturday, January 19 and will provide an opportunity to meet the artist.

For almost forty years, Charles Munch has lived on 220 acres of pristine forest and grassland close to Lone Rock in Wisconsin’s Driftless region. Drawing inspiration from his untamed surroundings, Munch has established himself as one of the most insightful artists working today on environmental issues in Wisconsin. “I want my works to stimulate conversation and to encourage a variety of viewpoints.”

Between the Lines features thirty paintings from four decades that trace Munch’s evolution from pure landscape painting to vividly imagined narratives that explore the often complex relationship between humans, animals, and their interactions within nature. It is, in fact, the presence—and interaction—of humans and animals that take center stage in his dramatic vignettes. At times, his human and animal characters interact harmoniously, but are often threatened or confrontational and the outcome is uncertain. “Now, more than ever, Munch’s paintings are relevant to our relationships with the natural world. He encourages us to re-examine our engagement with our environment in a way that is both subtle and forceful,” said Curator Graeme Reid.

Munch’s paintings are deceptively simple. Since the early 1990s, the artist’s painting style has shifted from a traditional realism to a linear and graphic style informed by comic books and commercial advertising. Bright colors, clearly defined lines, and bold, readable subjects define his current work. Superfluous detail is eliminated and each painting is carefully composed with the landscape as the principal backdrop for an unfolding narrative that often has the visual punch of a graphic cartoon though with none of the inherent humor.

“Over the last three decades, his reputation has increased steadily in the state with a growing body of work and a number of significant exhibitions to his credit. A museum exhibition that positions him and his work within the larger context of environmental art and issues was definitely long overdue,” said MOWA Executive Director | CEO Laurie Winters. “Between the Lines is the first major museum exhibition of Munch’s work in well over a decade.”

The full-color exhibition catalogue, Charles Munch: Between the Lines, will be available for purchase in the MOWA Shop and for free online as a digital download. Charles Munch is represented by Tory Folliard Gallery and Abel Contemporary Gallery.
Jessica Wildes, Director of Communications and Marketing
jwildes@wisconsinart.org, 262.247.2266