Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch

Overview
Edvard Munch (ˈɛdʋɑʈ ˈmʊŋk, 12 December 1863 – 23 January 1944) was a Norwegian
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 Symbolist
Symbolism (arts)
Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French, Russian and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. In literature, the style had its beginnings with the publication Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire...

 painter, printmaker and an important forerunner of expressionist art
Expressionism
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

. His best-known composition, The Scream
The Scream
Scream is the title of Expressionist paintings and prints in a series by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, showing an agonized figure against a blood red sky...

, is part of a series The Frieze of Life, in which Munch explored the themes of love, fear, death, melancholia, and anxiety.

Edvard Munch was born in a rustic farmhouse in the village of Ådalsbruk
Ådalsbruk
Ådalsbruk is a village in the municipality of Løten, Norway. Its population is 595.It was an old industrial site, the name taken from the iron works Aadals Brug Jernstøberi og Mek. Værksted, which existed from 1828 to 1928...

 in Løten
Løten
Løten is a municipality in Hedmark county, Norway. It is part of the traditional region of Hedmarken. The administrative centre of the municipality is the village of Løten. The parish of Løiten was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838 .-Name:The municipality is named after an old farm...

, Norway to Christian Munch, the son of a priest.
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Quotations

No longer shall I paint interiors with men reading and women knitting. I will paint living people who breathe and feel and suffer and love.

"Impressions from a ballroom, New Year's Eve in St. Cloud" also known as "The St. Cloud Manifesto" (1889)

When seen as a whole, art derives from a person’s desire to communicate himself to another. I do not believe in an art which is not forced into existence by a human being’s desire to open his heart. All art, literature, and music must be born in your heart’s blood. Art is your heart’s blood.

Manuscript (1891), quoted in Edvard Munch and the Physiology of Symbolism (2002) by Shelley Wood Cordulack

Could only have been painted by a madman.

His inscription, written in pencil, between the red clouds on at least one of his paintings of The Scream (c. 1893 - 1910), as quoted in Edvard Munch : The Man and His Art (1977) by Ragna Thiis Stang, p. 106

My art is rooted in a single reflection: why am I not as others are? ... my art gives meaning to my life.

Quoted in Edvard Munch : Psyche, Symbol and Expression (2001) by Jeffery Howe

From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity.

Quoted in Sustainable Landscape Construction : A Guide to Green Building Outdoors (2007) by William Thompson and Kim Sorvig, p. 30
Encyclopedia
Edvard Munch (ˈɛdʋɑʈ ˈmʊŋk, 12 December 1863 – 23 January 1944) was a Norwegian
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 Symbolist
Symbolism (arts)
Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French, Russian and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. In literature, the style had its beginnings with the publication Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire...

 painter, printmaker and an important forerunner of expressionist art
Expressionism
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

. His best-known composition, The Scream
The Scream
Scream is the title of Expressionist paintings and prints in a series by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, showing an agonized figure against a blood red sky...

, is part of a series The Frieze of Life, in which Munch explored the themes of love, fear, death, melancholia, and anxiety.

Childhood


Edvard Munch was born in a rustic farmhouse in the village of Ådalsbruk
Ådalsbruk
Ådalsbruk is a village in the municipality of Løten, Norway. Its population is 595.It was an old industrial site, the name taken from the iron works Aadals Brug Jernstøberi og Mek. Værksted, which existed from 1828 to 1928...

 in Løten
Løten
Løten is a municipality in Hedmark county, Norway. It is part of the traditional region of Hedmarken. The administrative centre of the municipality is the village of Løten. The parish of Løiten was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838 .-Name:The municipality is named after an old farm...

, Norway to Christian Munch, the son of a priest. Christian was a doctor and medical officer who married Laura Catherine Bjølstad, a woman half his age, in 1861. Edvard had an older sister, Johanne Sophie (born 1862), and three younger siblings: Peter Andreas (born 1865), Laura Catherine (born 1867), and Inger Marie (born 1868). Both Sophie and Edvard appear to have inherited their artistic talent from their mother. Edvard Munch was related to painter Jacob Munch (1776–1839) and historian Peter Andreas Munch
Peter Andreas Munch
Peter Andreas Munch , usually known as P. A. Munch, was a Norwegian historian, known for his work on the medieval history of Norway. Munch’s scholarship included Norwegian archaeology, geography, ethnography, linguistics, and jurisprudence...

 (1810–1863).

The family moved to Christiania (now Oslo
Oslo
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

) in 1864 when Christian Munch was appointed medical officer at Akershus Fortress
Akershus Fortress
Akershus Fortress or Akershus Castle is a medieval castle that was built to protect Oslo, the capital of Norway. It has also been used as a prison.- Construction :...

. Edvard's mother died of tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 in 1868, as did Munch's favorite sister Johanne Sophie in 1877. After their mother's death, the Munch siblings were raised by their father and by their aunt Karen. Often ill for much of the winters and kept out of school, Edvard would draw to keep himself occupied, and received tutoring from his school mates and his aunt. Christian Munch also instructed his son in history and literature, and entertained the children with vivid ghost-stories and tales of Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was an American author, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective...

.

Christian's positive behavior toward his children, however, was overshadowed by his morbid pietism
Pietism
Pietism was a movement within Lutheranism, lasting from the late 17th century to the mid-18th century and later. It proved to be very influential throughout Protestantism and Anabaptism, inspiring not only Anglican priest John Wesley to begin the Methodist movement, but also Alexander Mack to...

. Munch wrote, "My father was temperamentally nervous and obsessively religious—to the point of psychoneurosis. From him I inherited the seeds of madness. The angels of fear, sorrow, and death stood by my side since the day I was born." Christian reprimanded his children by telling them that their mother was looking down from heaven and grieving over their misbehavior. The oppressive religious milieu, plus Edvard's poor health and the vivid ghost stories, helped inspire macabre visions and nightmares in Edvard, who felt death constantly advancing on him. One of Munch's younger sisters was diagnosed with mental illness at an early age. Of the five siblings only Andreas married, but he died a few months after the wedding. Munch would later write, "I inherited two of mankind's most frightful enemies—the heritage of consumption and insanity."

Christian Munch's military pay was very low, and his attempts at developing a private side practice failed, keeping his family in perennial poverty. They moved frequently from one sordid flat to another. Munch's early drawings and watercolors depicted these interiors, and the individual objects such as medicine bottles and drawing implements, plus some landscapes. By his teens, art dominated Munch's interests. At thirteen, Munch had his first exposure to other artists at the newly formed Art Association, where he admired the work of the Norwegian landscape school. He returned to copy the paintings, and soon he began to paint in oils.

Studies and influences



In 1879, Munch enrolled in a technical college
Institute of technology
Institute of technology is a designation employed in a wide range of learning institutions awarding different types of degrees and operating often at variable levels of the educational system...

 to study engineering, where he excelled in physics, chemistry, and math. He learned scaled and perspective drawing, but frequent illnesses interrupted his studies. The following year, much to his father's disappointment, Munch left the college determined to become a painter. His father viewed art as an "unholy trade", and his neighbors reacted bitterly and sent him anonymous letters. In contrast to his father's rabid pietism, Munch adopted an undogmatic stance toward art, writing in his diary his simple goal: "in my art I attempt to explain life and its meaning to myself."

In 1881, Munch enrolled at the Royal School of Art and Design of Christiania, one of whose founders was his distant relative Jacob Munch. His teachers were sculptor Julius Middelthun
Julius Middelthun
Julius Middelthun was a Norwegian sculptor born in Kongsberg, son of a coin engraver. As a young man he trained as a goldsmith before moving to Copenhagen to study with Bissen. His ten years there were followed by eight years in Rome, after which time he returned to Norway...

 and naturalistic
Naturalism (art)
Naturalism in art refers to the depiction of realistic objects in a natural setting. The Realism movement of the 19th century advocated naturalism in reaction to the stylized and idealized depictions of subjects in Romanticism, but many painters have adopted a similar approach over the centuries...

 painter Christian Krohg
Christian Krohg
Christian Krohg , was a Norwegian naturalist painter, illustrator, author and journalist.-Life and career:...

. That year Munch demonstrated his quick absorption of his figure training at the Academy in his first portraits, including one of his father and his first self-portrait. In 1883, Munch took part in his first public exhibition and shared a studio with other students. His full-length portrait of Karl Jensen-Hjell, a notorious bohemian-about-town, earned a critic's dismissive response: "It is impressionism carried to the extreme. It is a travesty of art." Munch's nude paintings from this period survive only in sketches, except for Standing Nude (1887), perhaps confiscated by his father.

During these early years in his career, Munch experimented with many styles, including Naturalism and Impressionism
Impressionism
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

. Some early works are reminiscent of Manet
Manet
-MANET as an abbreviation:*MANET is a mobile ad hoc network, a self-configuring mobile wireless network.*MANET database or Molecular Ancestry Network, bioinformatics database-People with the surname Manet:*Édouard Manet, a 19th-century French painter....

. Many of these attempts brought him unfavorable criticism from the press and garnered him constant rebukes by his father, who nonetheless provided him with small sums for living expenses. At one point, however, Munch's father, perhaps swayed by the negative opinion of Munch's cousin Edvard Diriks (an established, traditional painter), destroyed at least one painting (likely a nude) and refused to advance any more money for art supplies.

Munch also received his father's ire for his relationship with Hans Jæger
Hans Jæger
Hans Henrik Jæger was a Norwegian writer, philosopher and anarchist political activist who was part of the Oslo based bohemian group Kristianiabohêmen. He was prosecuted for his book Fra Kristiania-bohêmen and convicted to 60 days' imprisonment in a supreme court ruling in 1886...

, the local nihilist who lived by the code "a passion to destroy is also a creative passion" and who advocated suicide as the ultimate way to freedom. Munch came under his malevolent, anti-establishment spell. "My ideas developed under the influence of the bohemians or rather under Hans Jaeger. Many people have mistakenly claimed that my ideas were formed under the influence of Strindberg
Strindberg
Strindberg may refer to:People* August Strindberg , Swedish dramatist and painter* Nils Strindberg , Swedish photographer* Anita Strindberg , Swedish actor* Henrik Strindberg , Swedish composerOther...

 and the Germans…but that is wrong. They had already been formed by then." At that time, contrary to many of the other bohemians, Munch was still respectful of women, as well as reserved and well-mannered, but he began to give in to the binge drinking and brawling of his circle. He was unsettled by the sexual revolution going on at the time and by the independent women around him. He later turned cynical concerning sexual matters, expressed not only in his behavior and his art, but in his writings as well, an example being a long poem called The City of Free Love. Still dependent on his family for many of his meals, Munch's relationship with his father remained tense over concerns about his bohemian life.

After numerous experiments, Munch concluded that the Impressionist idiom did not allow sufficient expression. He found it superficial and too akin to scientific experimentation. He felt a need to go deeper and explore situations brimming with emotional content and expressive energy. Under Jaeger's commandment that Munch should "write his life", meaning that Munch should explore his own emotional and psychological state, Munch began a period of reflection and self-examination, recording his thoughts in his "soul's diary". This deeper perspective helped move him to a new view of his art. He wrote that his painting The Sick Child
The Sick Child
The Sick Child is an 1885 painting by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch . It is a portrait of his older and favorite sister Sophie who died of tuberculosis in 1877 at the approximate age of 15. Munch considered the painting "a breakthrough in my art".Munch created numerous versions of the painting...

(1886), based on his sister's death, was his first "soul painting", his first break from Impressionism. The painting received a negative response from critics and from his family, and caused another "violent outburst of moral indignation" from the community. Only his friend Christian Krohg defended him:

He paints, or rather regards, things in a way that is different from that of other artists. He sees only the essential, and that, naturally, is all he paints. For this reason Munch's pictures are as a rule "not complete", as people are so delighted to discover for themselves. Oh, yes, they are complete. His complete handiwork. Art is complete once the artist has really said everything that was on his mind, and this is precisely the advantage Munch has over painters of the other generation, that he really knows how to show us what he has felt, and what has gripped him, and to this he subordinates everything else.


Munch continued to employ a variety of brushstroke technique and color palettes throughout the 1880s and early 1890s as he struggled to define his style. His idiom continued to veer between naturalistic
Naturalism (art)
Naturalism in art refers to the depiction of realistic objects in a natural setting. The Realism movement of the 19th century advocated naturalism in reaction to the stylized and idealized depictions of subjects in Romanticism, but many painters have adopted a similar approach over the centuries...

, as seen in Portrait of Hans Jæger, and impressionistic
Impressionism
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

, as in Rue Lafayette. His Inger On the Beach (1889), which caused another storm of confusion and controversy, hints at the simplified forms, heavy outlines, sharp contrasts, and emotional content of his mature style to come. He began to carefully calculate his compositions to create tension and emotion. While stylistically influenced by the Post-Impressionists
Post-Impressionism
Post-Impressionism is the term coined by the British artist and art critic Roger Fry in 1910 to describe the development of French art since Manet. Fry used the term when he organized the 1910 exhibition Manet and Post-Impressionism...

, what evolved was a subject matter which was symbolist
Symbolism (arts)
Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French, Russian and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. In literature, the style had its beginnings with the publication Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire...

 in content, depicting a state of mind rather than an external reality. In 1889, Munch presented his first one-man show of nearly all his works to date. The recognition it received led to a two-year state scholarship to study in Paris under French painter Léon Bonnat
Léon Bonnat
Léon Joseph Florentin Bonnat was a French painter.He was born in Bayonne, but from 1846 to 1853 he lived in Madrid, where his father owned a bookshop. While tending his father's shop, he copied engravings of works by the Old Masters, developing a passion for drawing...

.

Paris


Munch arrived in Paris during the festivities of the Exposition Universelle (1889)
Exposition Universelle (1889)
The Exposition Universelle of 1889 was a World's Fair held in Paris, France from 6 May to 31 October 1889.It was held during the year of the 100th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, an event traditionally considered as the symbol for the beginning of the French Revolution...

 and roomed with two fellow Norwegian artists. His picture Morning (1884) was displayed at the Norwegian pavilion. He spent his mornings at Bonnat's busy studio (which included live female models) and afternoons at the exhibition, galleries, and museums (where students were to make copies). Munch recorded little enthusiasm for Bonnat's drawing lessons—"It tires and bores me—it's numbing"—but enjoyed the master's commentary during museum trips.

Munch was enthralled by the vast display of modern European art, including the works of three artists who would prove influential: Paul Gauguin
Paul Gauguin
Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin was a leading French Post-Impressionist artist. He was an important figure in the Symbolist movement as a painter, sculptor, print-maker, ceramist, and writer...

, Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent Willem van Gogh , and used Brabant dialect in his writing; it is therefore likely that he himself pronounced his name with a Brabant accent: , with a voiced V and palatalized G and gh. In France, where much of his work was produced, it is...

, and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec—all notable for how they used color to convey emotion. Munch was particularly inspired by Gauguin's "reaction against realism" and his credo that "art was human work and not an imitation of Nature", a belief earlier stated by Whistler. As one of his Berlin friends stated later about Munch, "he need not make his way to Tahiti to see and experience the primitive in human nature. He carries his own Tahiti within him."

That December, his father died, leaving Munch's family destitute. He returned home and arranged a large loan from a wealthy Norwegian collector when wealthy relatives failed to help, and assumed financial responsibility for his family from then on. Christian's death depressed him and he was plagued by suicidal thoughts: "I live with the dead—my mother, my sister, my grandfather, my father…Kill yourself and then it's over. Why live?" Munch's paintings of the following year included sketchy tavern scenes and a series of bright cityscapes in which he experimented with the pointillist
Pointillism
Pointillism is a technique of painting in which small, distinct dots of pure color are applied in patterns to form an image. Georges Seurat developed the technique in 1886, branching from Impressionism. The term Pointillism was first coined by art critics in the late 1880s to ridicule the works...

 style of Georges Seurat.

Berlin


By 1892, Munch formulated his characteristic, and original, Synthetist
Synthetism
Synthetism is a term used by post-Impressionist artists like Paul Gauguin, Émile Bernard and Louis Anquetin to distinguish their work from Impressionism. Earlier, Synthetism has been connected to the term Cloisonnism, and later to Symbolism...

 aesthetic, as seen in Melancholy, in which color is the symbol-laden element. In 1892, Adelsteen Normann
Adelsteen Normann
Adelsteen Normann was a Norwegian painter who worked in Berlin. He was a noted painter of landscapes of Norway. Normann was the artist who invited Edvard Munch to Berlin, where he painted The Scream...

, on behalf of the Union of Berlin Artists invited Munch to exhibit at its November exhibition, the society's first one-man exhibition. However, his paintings evoked bitter controversy (dubbed "The Munch Affair") and after one week the exhibition closed. Munch was pleased with the "great commotion", and wrote in a letter: "Never have I had such an amusing time—it's incredible that something as innocent as painting should have created such a stir."

In Berlin, Munch involved himself in an international circle of writers, artists and critics, including the Swedish dramatist and leading intellectual August Strindberg
August Strindberg
Johan August Strindberg was a Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist and painter. A prolific writer who often drew directly on his personal experience, Strindberg's career spanned four decades, during which time he wrote over 60 plays and more than 30 works of fiction, autobiography,...

, whom he painted in 1892. During his four years in Berlin, Munch sketched out most of the ideas that would comprise his major work, The Frieze of Life, first designed for book illustration but later expressed in paintings. He sold little, but made some income from charging entrance fees to view his controversial paintings. Already, Munch was showing a reluctance to part with his paintings, which he termed his "children".

His other paintings, including casino scenes, show a simplification of form and detail which marked his early mature style. Munch also began to favor a shallow pictorial space and a minimal backdrop for his frontal figures. Since poses were chosen to produce the most convincing images of states of mind and psychological conditions, as in Ashes, the figures impart a monumental, static quality. Munch's figures appear to play roles on a theatre stage (Death in the Sick-Room), whose pantomime of fixed postures signify various emotions; since each character embodies a single psychological dimension, as in The Scream, Munch's men and women now appear more symbolic than realistic. He wrote, "No longer should interiors be painted, people reading and women knitting: there would be living people, breathing and feeling, suffering and loving."

The Scream




Painted in 1893, The Scream is Munch's most famous work and one of the most recognizable paintings in all art. It has been widely interpreted as representing the universal anxiety of modern man. Painted with broad bands of garish color and highly simplified forms, and employing a high viewpoint, the agonized figure is reduced to a garbed skull in the throes of an emotional crisis. With this painting, Munch met his stated goal of "the study of the soul, that is to say the study of my own self". Munch wrote of how the painting came to be: "I was walking down the road with two friends when the sun set; suddenly, the sky turned as red as blood. I stopped and leaned against the fence, feeling unspeakably tired. Tongues of fire and blood stretched over the bluish black fjord. My friends went on walking, while I lagged behind, shivering with fear. Then I heard the enormous, infinite scream of nature." He later described the personal anguish behind the painting, "for several years I was almost mad… You know my picture, 'The Scream?' I was stretched to the limit—nature was screaming in my blood… After that I gave up hope ever of being able to love again."

In summing up the painting's impact author Martha Tedeschi has stated:" Whistler's Mother
Whistler's Mother
Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist's Mother, famous under its colloquial name Whistler's Mother, is an 1871 oil-on-canvas painting by American-born painter James McNeill Whistler. The painting is , displayed in a frame of Whistler's own design, and is now owned by the Musée d'Orsay in Paris....

, Wood's American Gothic
American Gothic
American Gothic is a painting by Grant Wood, in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Wood's inspiration came from a cottage designed in the Gothic Revival style with a distinctive upper window and a decision to paint the house along with "the kind of people I fancied should live in that...

, Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa is a portrait by the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. It is a painting in oil on a poplar panel, completed circa 1503–1519...

and Edvard Munch's The Scream have all achieved something that most paintings—regardless of their art historical importance, beauty, or monetary value—have not: they communicate a specific meaning almost immediately to almost every viewer. These few works have successfully made the transition from the elite realm of the museum visitor to the enormous venue of popular culture."

Frieze of Life — A Poem about Life, Love and Death


In December 1893, Unter den Linden
Unter den Linden
Unter den Linden is a boulevard in the Mitte district of Berlin, the capital of Germany. It is named for its linden trees that line the grassed pedestrian mall between two carriageways....

 in Berlin held an exhibition of Munch's work, showing, among other pieces, six paintings entitled Study for a Series: Love. This began a cycle he later called the Frieze of Life — A Poem about Life, Love and Death. "Frieze of Life" motifs such as The Storm and Moonlight are steeped in atmosphere. Other motifs illuminate the nocturnal side of love, such as Rose and Amelie and Vampire. In Death in the Sickroom, the subject is the death of his sister Sophie, which he re-did in many future variations. The dramatic focus of the painting, portraying his entire family, is dispersed in a series of separate and disconnected figures of sorrow. In 1894, he enlarged the spectrum of motifs by adding Anxiety, Ashes, Madonna
Madonna (Edvard Munch)
Madonna is a painting by the Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch. Munch painted five versions of the Madonna between 1894 and 1895, using oils on canvas. One of them measures 91 x 70.5 cm....

and Women in Three Stages (from innocence to old age).

Around the turn of the century, Munch worked to finish the "Frieze". He painted a number of pictures, several of them in larger format and to some extent featuring the Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that were most popular during 1890–1910. The name "Art Nouveau" is French for "new art"...

 aesthetics of the time. He made a wooden frame with carved reliefs for the large painting Metabolism (1898), initially called Adam and Eve. This work reveals Munch's preoccupation with the "fall of man" myth and his pessimistic philosophy of love. Motifs such as The Empty Cross and Golgotha (both c. 1900) reflect a metaphysical orientation, and also echo Munch's pietistic upbringing. The entire Frieze showed for the first time at the secessionist
Berlin Secession
The Berlin Secession was an art association founded by Berlin artists in 1898 as an alternative to the conservative state-run Association of Berlin Artists. That year the official salon jury rejected a landscape by Walter Leistikow, who was a key figure amongst a group of young artists interested...

 exhibition in Berlin in 1902.

"The Frieze of Life" themes recur throughout Munch's work but find their strongest outpouring in the mid-1890s. In sketches, paintings, pastels and prints, he taps the depths of his feelings to examine his major motifs: the stages of life, the femme fatale, the hopelessness of love, anxiety, infidelity, jealousy, sexual humiliation, and separation in life and death. These themes find expression in paintings such as The Sick Child
The Sick Child
The Sick Child is an 1885 painting by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch . It is a portrait of his older and favorite sister Sophie who died of tuberculosis in 1877 at the approximate age of 15. Munch considered the painting "a breakthrough in my art".Munch created numerous versions of the painting...

(1885), Love and Pain (1893–94), Ashes (1894), and The Bridge. The latter shows limp figures with featureless or hidden faces, over which loom the threatening shapes of heavy trees and brooding houses. Munch portrayed women either as frail, innocent sufferers (see Puberty
Puberty (Edvard Munch)
Puberty is a painting created by Edvard Munch. Munch is an artist native to Norway and is widely known for his role in expressionistic art. Puberty has also been done as a lithograph and an etching by Munch.-Genesis:...

and Love and Pain) or as the cause of great longing, jealousy and despair (see Separation, Jealousy and Ashes).

Munch often uses shadows and rings of color around his figures to emphasize an aura of fear, menace, anxiety, or sexual intensity. These paintings have been interpreted as reflections of the artist's sexual anxieties, though it could also be argued that they are a better representation of his turbulent relationship with love itself and his general pessimism regarding human existence. Many of these sketches and paintings were done in several versions, such as Madonna, Hands and Puberty, and also transcribed as wood-block prints and lithographs. Munch hated to part with his paintings because he thought of his work as a single body of expression. So to capitalize on his production and make some income, he turned to graphic arts to reproduce many of his most famous paintings, including those in this series. Munch admitted to the personal goals of his work but he also offered his art to a wider purpose, "My art is really a voluntary confession and an attempt to explain to myself my relationship with life—it is, therefore, actually a sort of egoism, but I am constantly hoping that through this I can help others achieve clarity."

Still attracting strongly negative reactions, in the 1890s Munch did begin to receive some understanding of his artistic goals, as one critic wrote, "With ruthless contempt for form, clarity, elegance, wholeness, and realism, he paints with intuitive strength of talent the most subtle visions of the soul." One of his great supporters in Berlin was Walter Rathenau, later the German foreign minister
Foreign minister
A Minister of Foreign Affairs, or foreign minister, is a cabinet minister who helps form the foreign policy of a sovereign state. The foreign minister is often regarded as the most senior ministerial position below that of the head of government . It is often granted to the deputy prime minister in...

, who greatly contributed to his success.

Paris and Christiania



In 1896, Munch moved to Paris, where he focused on graphic representations of his "Frieze of Life" themes. He further developed his woodcut and lithographic technique. Munch's Self-Portrait With Skeleton Arm (1895) is done with an etching needle-and-ink method also used by Paul Klee
Paul Klee
Paul Klee was born in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland, and is considered both a German and a Swiss painter. His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism, cubism, and surrealism. He was, as well, a student of orientalism...

. Munch also produced multi-colored versions of "The Sick Child" which sold well, as well as several nudes and multiple versions of Kiss (1892) Many of the Parisian critics still considered Munch's work "violent and brutal" but his exhibitions received serious attention and good attendance. His financial situation improved considerably and in 1897, Munch bought himself a summer house, a small fisherman's cabin built in the late 18th century, in the small town of Åsgårdstrand
Åsgårdstrand
Åsgårdstrand is a city in Vestfold, Norway. It is also the name of a former independent municipality and a center of trade. The town is situated 10 km south of Horten, 10 km north of Tønsberg and 100 km south of Oslo by the west coast of the Oslofjord.From 2007, the town has had the...

 in Norway. He dubbed this home the "Happy House" and returned here almost every summer for the next 20 years.

Munch returned to Christiania in 1897 where he also received grudging acceptance, where one critic wrote, "A fair number of these pictures have been exhibited before. In my opinion these improve on acquaintance." In 1899, at the age of thirty-four, Munch began an intimate relationship with Tulla Larsen, a "liberated" upper-class woman. They traveled to Italy together and upon returning, Munch began another fertile period in his art, which included landscapes and his final painting in "The Frieze of Life" series, The Dance of Life (1899). Larsen was eager for marriage, and Munch begged off. His drinking and poor health reinforced his fears, as he wrote in the third person, "Ever since he was a child he had hated marriage. His sick and nervous home had given him the feeling that he had no right to get married." Munch almost gave in to Tulla, but fled from her in 1900, also turning away from her considerable fortune, and moved to Berlin. His Girls on the Jetty, created in eighteen different versions, demonstrated the theme of feminine youth without negative connotations. In 1902, he displayed his works thematically at the hall of the Berlin Succession, producing "a symphonic effect—it made a great stir—a lot of antagonism—and a lot of approval." The Berlin critics were beginning to appreciate Munch's work even though the public still found his work alien and strange.

The good press coverage gained Munch the attention of influential patrons Albert Kollman and Max Linde
Max Linde
Max Linde was an ophthalmologist who is best known as a patron and art collector of the early 20th century. He was an important patron of the painter Edvard Munch, among others.-Further reading:...

. He described the turn of events in his diary, "After twenty years of struggle and misery forces of good finally come to my aid in Germany—and a bright door opens up for me." However, despite this positive change, Munch's self-destructive and erratic behavior involved him first with a violent quarrel with another artist, then with an accidental shooting in the presence of Tulla Larsen, who had returned for a brief reconciliation, which injured two of his fingers. She finally left him and married a younger colleague of Munch. Munch took this as a betrayal, and he dwelled on the humiliation for some time to come, channeling some of the bitterness into new paintings. His paintings Still Life (The Murderess) and The Death of Marat I, done in 1906-7, clearly reference the shooting incident and the emotional after effects.

In 1903-4, Munch exhibited in Paris where the coming Fauvists
Fauvism
Fauvism is the style of les Fauves , a short-lived and loose group of early twentieth-century Modern artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities and strong colour over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism...

, famous for their boldly false colors, likely saw his works and might have found inspiration in them. When the Fauves held their own exhibit in 1906, Munch was invited and displayed his works with theirs. After studying the sculpture of Rodin
Auguste Rodin
François-Auguste-René Rodin , known as Auguste Rodin , was a French sculptor. Although Rodin is generally considered the progenitor of modern sculpture, he did not set out to rebel against the past...

, Munch may have experimented with plasticine as an aid to design, but he produced little sculpture. During this time, Munch received many commissions for portraits and prints which improved his usually precarious financial condition. After an earlier period of landscapes, in 1907 he turned his attention again to human figures and situations.

Breakdown and recovery


However, in the autumn of 1908, Munch's anxiety, compounded by excessive drinking and brawling, had become acute. As he wrote later, "My condition was verging on madness—it was touch and go." Subject to hallucinations and feelings of persecution, he entered the clinic of Dr. Daniel Jacobson. The therapy
Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is a general term referring to any form of therapeutic interaction or treatment contracted between a trained professional and a client or patient; family, couple or group...

 Munch received for the next eight months included diet and "electrification" (a treatment then fashionable for nervous conditions, not to be confused with electroconvulsive therapy
Electroconvulsive therapy
Electroconvulsive therapy , formerly known as electroshock, is a psychiatric treatment in which seizures are electrically induced in anesthetized patients for therapeutic effect. Its mode of action is unknown...

). Munch's stay in hospital stabilized his personality, and after returning to Norway in 1909, his work became more colorful and less pessimistic. His portrait of Professor Jacobson, done in 1909, is one of Munch's best. Further brightening his mood, the general public of Christiania finally warmed to his work, and museums began to purchase his paintings. He was made a Knight of the Royal Order of St. Olav "for services in art". His first American exhibit was in 1912 in New York.

As part of his recovery, Dr. Jacobson advised Munch to only socialize with good friends and avoid public drinking. Munch followed this advice and in the process produced several full-length portraits of high quality of friends and patrons—honest portrayals devoid of flattery. He also created landscapes and scenes of people at work and play, using a new optimistic style—broad, loose brushstrokes of vibrant color with frequent use of white space and rare use of black—with only occasional references back to his morbid themes. With more income, Munch was able to buy several properties giving him new vistas for his art and he was finally able to provide for his family.
The outbreak of World War I found Munch with divided loyalties, as he stated, "All my friends are German but it is France that I love." In the 1930s, his German patrons, many Jewish, lost their fortunes and some their lives during the rise of the Nazi movement. Munch found Norwegian printers to substitute for the Germans who had been printing his graphic work. Given his poor health history, during 1918 Munch felt himself lucky to have survived a bout of the Spanish Flu
Spanish flu
The 1918 flu pandemic was an influenza pandemic, and the first of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus . It was an unusually severe and deadly pandemic that spread across the world. Historical and epidemiological data are inadequate to identify the geographic origin...

, the worldwide pandemic of that year.

Later years


Munch spent most of his last two decades in solitude at his nearly self-sufficient estate in Ekely, at Skøyen
Skøyen
Skøyen is a neighborhood of Oslo, Norway. It is located in the western part of the city, in the borough of Ullern.The name "Skøyen" comes from Old Norse Skǫðin, of unknown etymology....

, Oslo
Oslo
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

. Many of his late paintings celebrate farm life, including many where he used his work horse "Rousseau" as a model. Without any effort, Munch had a steady stream of female models, some of which he may have had sexual relations with, and who were the subjects of numerous nude paintings. Munch occasionally left his home to paint murals on commission, including those done for the Freia chocolate factory.

To the end of his life, Munch continued to paint unsparing self-portraits, adding to his self-searching cycle of his life and his unflinching series of snapshots of his emotional and physical states. In the 1930s and 1940s, the Nazis labeled Munch's work "degenerate art
Degenerate art
Degenerate art is the English translation of the German entartete Kunst, a term adopted by the Nazi regime in Germany to describe virtually all modern art. Such art was banned on the grounds that it was un-German or Jewish Bolshevist in nature, and those identified as degenerate artists were...

" (along with Picasso, Paul Klee
Paul Klee
Paul Klee was born in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland, and is considered both a German and a Swiss painter. His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism, cubism, and surrealism. He was, as well, a student of orientalism...

, Matisse, Gauguin and many other modern artists) and removed his 82 works from German museums. Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 announced in 1937, "For all we care, those prehistoric Stone Age culture barbarians and art-stutterers can return to the caves of their ancestors and there can apply their primitive international scratching."

In 1940, the Germans invaded Norway and the Nazi party took over the government. Munch was seventy-six years old. With nearly an entire collection of his art in the second floor of his house, Munch lived in fear of a Nazi confiscation. Seventy-one of the paintings previously taken by the Nazis had found their way back to Norway through purchase by collectors (the other eleven were never recovered), including The Scream and The Sick Child, and they too were hidden from the Nazis.

Munch died in his house at Ekely near Oslo on January 23, 1944, about a month after his 80th birthday. His Nazi-orchestrated funeral left the impression with Norwegians that he was a Nazi sympathizer. The city of Oslo bought the Ekely estate from his heirs in 1946 and demolished his house in May 1960.

Legacy


When Munch died, he bequeathed his remaining works to the city of Oslo, which built the Munch Museum
Munch Museum
Munch Museum is an art museum in Oslo, Norway dedicated to the life and works of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.-Munch Museum:...

 at Tøyen
Tøyen
Tøyen is a residential area in the central parts of Oslo, Norway, part of the borough of Gamle Oslo.-Location:It is noted for its high concentration of immigrants. The multicultural atmosphere makes Tøyen very trendy and popular with continually rising cost of housing.There are two different...

 (it opened in 1963). The museum hosts a collection of approximately 1,100 paintings, 4,500 drawings, and 18,000 prints, the broadest collection of his works in the world. The Munch Museum
Munch Museum
Munch Museum is an art museum in Oslo, Norway dedicated to the life and works of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.-Munch Museum:...

 currently serves at Munch's official Estate and has been active in responding to copyright infringements, as well as clearing copyright for the work, such as the appearance of Munch's The Scream in a 2006 M&M advertisement campaign. The U.S. copyright representative for the Munch Museum and the Estate of Edvard Munch is the Artists Rights Society
Artists Rights Society
Artists Rights Society is a copyright, licensing, and monitoring organization for visual artists in the United States. Founded in 1987, ARS represents the intellectual property rights interests of over 50,000 visual artists and estates of visual artists from around the world .- Member Artists &...

.

Munch's art was highly personalized and he did little teaching. His "private" symbolism was far more personal than that of other Symbolist painters such as Gustave Moreau
Gustave Moreau
Gustave Moreau was a French Symbolist painter whose main emphasis was the illustration of biblical and mythological figures. As a painter of literary ideas, Moreau appealed to the imaginations of some Symbolist writers and artists.- Biography :Moreau was born in Paris. His father, Louis Jean Marie...

 and James Ensor
James Ensor
James Sidney Edouard, Baron Ensor was a Flemish-Belgian painter and printmaker, an important influence on expressionism and surrealism who lived in Ostend for almost his entire life...

. Nonetheless, Munch was highly influential, particularly with the German Expressionists
German Expressionism
German Expressionism refers to a number of related creative movements beginning in Germany before the First World War that reached a peak in Berlin, during the 1920s...

, who followed his philosophy, "I do not believe in the art which is not the compulsive result of Man's urge to open his heart." Many of his paintings, including The Scream, have universal appeal in addition to their highly personal meaning.

Munch's works are now represented in numerous major museums and galleries in Norway and abroad. After the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

 in the People's Republic of China ended, Munch was the first Western artist to have his pictures exhibited at the National Gallery in Beijing. His cabin "the Happy House" was given to the municipality of Åsgårdstrand in 1944 and is now a small Munch museum. The inventory is still exactly as he left it.

One version of The Scream was stolen from the National Gallery in 1994. In 2004 another version of The Scream along with one of Madonna were stolen from the Munch Museum in a daring daylight robbery. All were eventually recovered, but the paintings stolen in the 2004 robbery were extensively damaged. They have been meticulously restored and are on display again. Three Munch works were stolen from the Hotel Refsnes Gods in 2005; they were shortly recovered, although one of the works was damaged during the robbery.

In October 2006, the color woodcut
Woodcut
Woodcut—occasionally known as xylography—is a relief printing artistic technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed, typically with gouges...

 Two people. The lonely (To mennesker. De ensomme) set a new record for his prints when it was sold at an auction in Oslo for 8.1 million NOK
Norwegian krone
The krone is the currency of Norway and its dependent territories. The plural form is kroner . It is subdivided into 100 øre. The ISO 4217 code is NOK, although the common local abbreviation is kr. The name translates into English as "crown"...

 (1.27 million USD
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

). It also set a record for the highest price paid in auction in Norway. On November 3, 2008, the painting Vampire set a new record for his paintings when it was sold for 38.162 million USD
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

 at Sotheby's
Sotheby's
Sotheby's is the world's fourth oldest auction house in continuous operation.-History:The oldest auction house in operation is the Stockholms Auktionsverk founded in 1674, the second oldest is Göteborgs Auktionsverk founded in 1681 and third oldest being founded in 1731, all Swedish...

 New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

.

Munch appears on the Norwegian 1,000 Kroner
Norwegian krone
The krone is the currency of Norway and its dependent territories. The plural form is kroner . It is subdivided into 100 øre. The ISO 4217 code is NOK, although the common local abbreviation is kr. The name translates into English as "crown"...

 note along with pictures inspired by his artwork.

List of major works


  • 1892 — Evening on Karl Johan
  • 1893 — The Scream
    The Scream
    Scream is the title of Expressionist paintings and prints in a series by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, showing an agonized figure against a blood red sky...

  • 1894 — Ashes
  • 1894–1895 — Madonna
    Madonna (Edvard Munch)
    Madonna is a painting by the Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch. Munch painted five versions of the Madonna between 1894 and 1895, using oils on canvas. One of them measures 91 x 70.5 cm....

  • 1895 — Puberty
    Puberty (Edvard Munch)
    Puberty is a painting created by Edvard Munch. Munch is an artist native to Norway and is widely known for his role in expressionistic art. Puberty has also been done as a lithograph and an etching by Munch.-Genesis:...

  • 1895 — Self-Portrait with Burning Cigarette
  • 1895 — Death in the Sickroom
  • 1899–1900 — The Dance of Life
  • 1899–1900 — The Dead Mother
  • 1940–1942 — Self Portrait: Between Clock and Bed

See also

  • Edvard Munch
    Edvard Munch (film)
    Edvard Munch is a 1974 biographical film about the Norwegian Expressionist painter Edvard Munch, written and directed by Peter Watkins. It was originally created as a three-part miniseries co-produced by the Norwegian and Swedish state television networks NRK and SVT, but subsequently gained an...

    , a 1974 biographical film
  • Munch Museum
    Munch Museum
    Munch Museum is an art museum in Oslo, Norway dedicated to the life and works of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.-Munch Museum:...

    , the museum dedicated to his life and work
  • List of paintings by Edvard Munch

Further reading

  • Peter Black and Magne Bruteig, Edvard Munch: Prints. Catalogue of exhibition at Hunterian, Glasgow and National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin 2009. (Philip Wilson, London 2009)
  • Sue Prideaux
    Sue Prideaux
    Sue Prideaux, is an English novelist and biographer. She has strong links to Norway and her godmother was painted by Edvard Munch, whose biography she later wrote under the title Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream...

    , Behind The Scream (New Haven: Yale University Press
    Yale University Press
    Yale University Press is a book publisher founded in 1908 by George Parmly Day. It became an official department of Yale University in 1961, but remains financially and operationally autonomous....

    , 2005) Winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize
    James Tait Black Memorial Prize
    Founded in 1919, the James Tait Black Memorial Prizes are among the oldest and most prestigious book prizes awarded for literature written in the English language and are Britain's oldest literary awards...

     for Biography, 2006
  • Reinhold Heller, Munch. His life and work (London: Murray, 1984).
  • Gustav Schiefler, Verzeichnis des graphischen Werks Edvard Munchs bis 1906 (Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1907).
  • Gustav Schiefler, Edvard Munch. Das graphische Werk 1906–1926 (Berlin: Euphorion, 1928).
  • J. Gill Holland The Private Journals of Edvard Munch: We Are Flames Which Pour out of the Earth (University of Wisconsin Press 2005)
  • Edward Dolnick
    Edward Dolnick
    Edward Dolnick is an American writer, formerly a science writer at the Boston Globe. He has been published in the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine, and the Washington Post, among other publications....

     The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece (HarperCollins, 2005) (Recounts the 1994 theft of The Scream from Norway's National Gallery in Oslo, and its eventual recovery.)
  • Gerd Woll, Edvard Munch: Complete Paintings, 2009.(4 Volume catalogue raisonné
    Catalogue raisonné
    The typical catalogue raisonné is a monograph giving a comprehensive catalogue of artworks by an artist.The essential elements of a catalogue raisonné are that it purports to be an exhaustive list of works for a defined subject matter describing the works in a way so that they may be reliably...

     slipcased: Volume I: 1880-1897, Volume II: 1898-1908, Volume III: 1909-1920, Volume IV: 1921-1944). ISBN 978-82-04-14000-5, ISBN 0-500-09345-8.

External links