VMFA launches Scream Sundays

Free tickets for select dates for Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch: Love, Loss, and the Cycle of Life

For the next three Sundays, visitors can see the internationally acclaimed exhibition Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch: Love, Loss and the Cycle of Life at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for free. Scream Sundays takes its name from Munch’s iconic work, The Scream, which exists in a number of different versions. A rare black-and-white lithograph, which Munch made in 1895, is one of the highlights of the exhibition.

While admission to Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch will be free all day on those three Sundays, visitors still must have timed entry tickets. Tickets can be picked up any time at the Visitor Services desk. Visitors also can reserve free tickets online or by phone at 804.340.1405; the price of tickets reserved online will be discounted automatically on the billing screen. Free admission is offered on these Sundays: January 29, February 5, and February 12, 2017. The exhibition will close on February 20, 2017.

Organized by VMFA in partnership with the Munch Museum in Oslo, Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch examines how Johns (born 1930), one of America’s preeminent artists, mined the work of the Norwegian Expressionist in the late 1970s and early 1980s as he moved away from a decade of abstract painting towards a more open expression of love, sex, loss and death. VMFA is the exhibition’s sole U.S. venue, following the presentation at the Munch Museum, the sole venue abroad.

“This is an fascinating examination and exploration of the relationship between these two extraordinary artists – and an unparalleled exhibition that is elevating our museum’s profile on an international scale,”   VMFA Director Alex Nyerges said. “In support of our ongoing mission to increase the accessibility of art throughout the Commonwealth, we believe that offering free admission on Scream Sundays will ensure more visitors will have an opportunity to experience this unique and compelling exhibition.”

Since opening on November 12, 2016, the exhibition has earned extensive media coverage and rave reviews, in publications such as The Wall Street Journal; London-based Burlington Magazine, billed as the world’s leading monthly publication devoted to the fine and decorative arts; and Hyperallergic, an online forum with perspectives on art and culture around the globe.

About the Exhibition

Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch was conceived and organized by Curator John B. Ravenal during his tenure as VMFA’s Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. In 2015, he was named Executive Director of deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

Ravenal calls the two artists “strange bedfellows” in the accompanying volume, Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch: Inspiration and Transformation, co-published by VMFA and Yale University Press, in partnership with the Munch Museum. By the turn of the last century, Munch had worked his way toward a figurative style shaped by the emotions that preoccupied him–anxiety, loneliness, jealousy, fear, and grief. Johns, on the other hand, has been quoted as saying “I didn’t want my work to be an exposure of my feelings,” when describing why he turned his back on Abstract Expressionism to paint familiar, even neutral, images like flags, targets, and numbers. 

Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch assembles 128 works, including many important paintings, drawings, and prints in once-in-a-lifetime combinations to trace the route Johns traveled to find what he needed in Munch’s work.  The journey was shaped in part by chance: a quarter century after having first encountered Munch’s art at MoMA, for instance, Johns received a postcard of Munch’s Self-Portrait between the Clock and the Bed, 1940-43, from a friend who had noticed similarities between the bedspread in the painting and Johns’s crosshatch motif.  While the resemblance was coincidental, Johns went on to make a least 12 more works with overt references to Munch’s art.

“Given that the international arts community has embraced the significance of this VMFA organized exhibition, we wanted to offer everyone an opportunity to explore the fascinating relationship between Johns and Munch,” said Michael Taylor, VMFA’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education. “We expect the free Scream Sundays to be wildly popular with our visitors!

General admission to the museum is always free, but tickets are required for select exhibitions. For dates outside of free Scream Sundays, admission to Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors 65+, and $10 for students and youth. Admission is free for VMFA members.


Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch:  Love, Loss, and the Cycle of Life at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is presented by Altria Group. Its international tour is supported through a generous grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art, which seeks to foster cross-cultural conversations about American art through innovative exhibitions, research, and educational programs. Major support  has been provided by the Henry Luce Foundation, in recognition of the project’s contribution to the study of American art.  The exhibition has also received support from the National Endowment for the Arts. The exhibition program at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is supported by the Julia Louise Reynolds Fund.

About The Munch Museum

When Johns+Munch opened in Oslo on June 18, 2016, it was the first comprehensive presentation of the art of Jasper Johns in Scandinavia and an offering in the Munch Museum’s six-part series +Munch. Other artists compared to Munch in this series are Vincent van Gogh, Gustav Vigeland, Asger Jorn, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Bjarne Melgaard. Since its opening in 1963, the Munch Museum has devoted its exhibitions and programming to preserving and furthering the legacy of its namesake.  The museum launched with a donation from the artist’s estate of 1,150 paintings, close to 18,000 prints depicting more than 700 different motifs, 7,700 drawings and watercolors, and 13 sculptures. In addition, there were nearly 500 printing plates, 2,240 books, notebooks, documents, photographs, art tools, accessories and pieces of furniture. Further works of art by Munch as well as his extensive collection of letters were bequeathed to the City of Oslo by his sister Inger Munch, and were added to the Munch collection when she died in 1952. Today the Munch Museum houses more than half of Edvard Munch’s paintings and most of his prints.

About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, is one of the largest comprehensive art museums in the United States. VMFA, which opened in 1936, is a state agency and privately endowed educational institution. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret art, and to encourage the study of the arts. Through the Office of Statewide Partnerships program, the museum offers curated exhibitions, arts-related audiovisual programs, symposia, lectures, conferences, and workshops by visual and performing artists. In addition to presenting a wide array of special exhibitions, the museum provides visitors with the opportunity to experience a global collection of art that spans more than 5,000 years.  VMFA’s permanent holdings encompass more than 35,000 artworks, including the largest public collection of Fabergé outside of Russia, the finest collection of Art Nouveau outside of Paris, and one of the nation’s finest collections of American art. VMFA is home to important collections of English silver and Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, British sporting, and modern and contemporary art, as well as renowned South Asian, Himalayan, and African art. In May 2010, VMFA opened its doors to the public after a transformative expansion, the largest in its 80-year history. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is the only art museum in the United States open 365 days a year with free general admission. For additional information, telephone 804-340-1400 or visit www.vmfa.museum.

Media Contact:

Anthony Backherms | anthony.backherms@vmfa.museum | 804.204.2705
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 200 N. Boulevard, Richmond VA 23220-4007