Curatorial StatementThe purpose of this exhibition is to tell the story of Chuck Palahniuk’snovel, Fight Club, with the use of art throughout history. I have chosenartists such as Pablo Picasso, Edvard Munch, James Ensor, and VincentVan Gogh to convey the story with this unique perspective. Theselected artists studied similar impressionist and expressionist styles intheir works with loose brushstrokes and vivid colors. Loosebrushstrokes in art can describe certain emotions such as frustrationand anxiety while the colors can also explain a wide variety of moodsthat can be seen throughout Fight Club. As spectators observe thepieces of work in this order, I am hoping to enhance their knowledge ofthe story and perhaps create for them a different outlook of the novel.In doing so, they can make their own judgments on the nature ofhumanity.
EDVARD MUNCH“THE SCREAM” 1893 “It’s easy to cry when you realize that everyone you love will reject you or die. On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone will drop to zero.”
As the Narrator of Fight Club starts outsuffering from insomnia, he continues toaccumulate feelings of anxiety. He tries to solvethis problem by attending self-help groups, wherehe realizes the key to him sleeping is the ability tocry. This painting illustrates the anguished mind ofthe character as he walks this road alone,detached from the rest of the world. With theswirling of colors, Edvard Munch instills fear in theviewer as they are thrown around the image andtherefore trapped in all of the horrors of life, bothknown and unknown.
PABLO PICASSO “FAUN WITH STARS” 1955“From the firstnight I met her, Tyler or some part of me hadneeded a way tobe with Marla.”
Marla Singer shows up to self-help sessions andruins everything for the Narrator. He feels like heneeds to get rid of her, so they come up with aschedule where one won’t bother the other in theirattempt to improve their life. Despite his apparenthatred for her on the surface, the Narrator has asubconscious liking for Marla from the beginning.Picasso portrays this lust in his painting with thestarry-eyed faun and nymph, which represent theromantic thoughts for another being.
EDVARD MUNCH“JEALOUSY II” 1907 “We have sort of a triangle thing going here. I want Tyler. Tyler wants Marla. Marla wants me.”
After moving in with Tyler Durden, the Narratorfinds himself in the middle of a strange relationship.He becomes jealous as Marla takes his onlycompanion away from him and, again, he has anunderlying want for love with the girl that Tyler ishaving sexual relations. Like the painting depicts, thecharacter turns green with envy and then furtherdevelops such feelings of abandonment, loneliness,and despair.
JAMES ENSOR “MASKS CONFRONTING DEATH” 1888 “As long as you’re at fight club, you’re not howmuch money you’ve got in the bank.You’re not your job. You’re not your family, and you’re not who you tell yourself.”
In response to all of the frustration, theNarrator creates Fight Club with the help of TylerDurden. Who people are in Fight Club, however, arenot who they seem to be in the real world; they puton a disguise and fight everything that they couldpossibly despise about life. The masks in JamesEnsor’s image, with their intensity, represent theviolent potentialities of humankind. These figuresgather around Death, which symbolizes what the menwill become in the end. They cannot escape thereality of what is yet to come.
PABLO PICASSO“GIRL BEFORE A MIRROR” 1932 “We both use the same body, but at different times.”
Time passed and much damage hadbeen done when the Narrator starts to finallyunderstand what is going on. Reality hitswhen he comes to the realization that TylerDurden is not an actual person, but instead is asecond side to himself. Picasso illustrates thisduality of life as the figure looking into themirror is shown in two very different lights.One seems to be painted in brighter coolerswhile the other in the mirror is rendered withdarker shadows. These extremities highlightthe good and evil embodied in a singlecharacter at a given point in time.
VINCENT VAN GOGH “THE STARRY NIGHT” 1889 “Only in deathwill we have our own names since only indeath are we no longer part of the effort.”
As he continues to become more awareof reality, the Narrator sees how the members ofFight Club and Project Mayhem are losing theirsense of individualism, as they no longer haveidentities. Only in death are they able to regaintheir sense of uniqueness. Vincent Van Goghexplained that just like we take a train to acertain destination, “we take death to reach astar.” Both death and eternal life are signified inhis painting, by the cypress tree connecting theterrestrial and celestial realms. The aspect oflove is displayed with the inclusion of Venus.For Van Gogh and the Narrator, this cansymbolize the hope of achieving in death, thelove that escaped them in existence.
VINCENT VAN GOGH“CORRIDOR IN THE ASYLUM” 1889 “We just are, and what happens just happens.”
In the end, the Narrator ends up hurting himselfin order to actually save himself. He is on a road torecovery as he tries to treat the existence of TylerDurden. While in the mental hospital, he mentionsthat we are not special and we are not trash, but wejust are what we are and what happens, happens. Itgoes to show that sometimes we cannot decide ourfate, but it is just given to us. This can be seen as welook down the long hall of the asylum in the painting.It seems lonely, yet with light at the end of the tunnel;it is something to anticipate in the recovery of anillness. The Narrator still has some healing before hecan go out into the real world. There is no turningback, because “we just are, and what happens justhappens.” All we can do now is move forward.