Artist
Edvard Munch
Norwegian painter and printmaker

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Edvard Munch
Norwegian painter and printmaker

Birth Date

December 12, 1863

Death Date

January 23, 1944

Contributor

Woe upon woe befell Edvard Munch, the artist behind one of art history’s most recognizable paintings, The Scream.

Ever wonder what drove him to paint that swirling, red, screaming inner anguish that resonates with so many of us? Well, the fact that his mother, one of his sisters and his only brother all died during his youth may have something to do with him becoming the poster child of tragedy. Oh, and another one of his sisters spent the better part of her life locked up in a mental asylum. He was dealt a tough hand.

Despite all the grimness the Munch kids already had to face, their father still liked to tell them scary ghost stories at night. Edgar Allan Poe was his choice for bedtime reading material. Questionable. Daddy was also a religious fanatic and constantly attempted to imbue a creepy amount of morals in his kids by telling them stuff like their mom was looking down at them from heaven and was disappointed in them when they were being naughty! Munch blamed his father somewhat for his own mental condition, which sounds about right.

All this led to Munch's nervous breakdown in 1908. Well all that and lotsa heavy drinking. He spent eight months institutionalized for hearing voices and for temporary paralysis of one side of his body. But in his distress, he found inspiration. During all these personal upheavals, Munch managed to produce one of the most iconic images of the 20th century. Sorta makes you feel bad about crying over a cancelled TV show, huh? But no judgements here.

Contributor

Edvard Munch's artwork is highly personalized.

 

"In my art," Munch said, "I attempt to explain life and its meaning to myself."  If The Scream is any indication, Eddie had some demons in that respect.  Perhaps that's why he was a hopeless alcoholic.

 

Munch never married, but had many friends with benefits. He was shot in the left hand by one of his mistresses when he tried to end their affair. Fortunately for him and future art historians, the painter was right handed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured Content

Here is what Wikipedia says about Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch (/mʊŋk/;Norwegian: [ˈɛdvɑʈ ˈmʊŋk] (About this soundlisten); 12 December 1863 – 23 January 1944) was a Norwegian painter, whose best known work, The Scream, has become one of the most iconic images of world art.

His childhood was overshadowed by illness, bereavement and the dread of inheriting a mental condition that ran in the family. Studying at the Royal School of Art and Design in Kristiania (today’s Oslo), Munch began to live the bohemian life, under the largely negative influence of the nihilist Hans Jæger, who did, however, urge him to paint his own emotional and psychological state (‘soul painting’). From this would presently emerge his distinctive style.

Travel brought new influences and new outlets. In Paris, he learned much from Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, especially their use of colour. In Berlin, he met Swedish dramatist August Strindberg, whom he painted, as he embarked on his major canon The Frieze of Life, depicting a series of deeply-felt themes such as love, anxiety, jealousy and betrayal, steeped in atmosphere.

But it was back in Kristiania that his legendary work The Scream was conceived. According to Munch, he was out walking at sunset, when he ‘heard the enormous, infinite scream of nature’. That agonised face is widely identified with the angst of modern man. Between 1893 and 1910, he made two painted versions and two in pastels, as well as a number of prints. One of the pastels would eventually command the fourth highest nominal price paid for a painting at auction.

As his fame and wealth grew, his emotional state remained as insecure as ever. He briefly considered marriage, but could not commit himself. A breakdown in 1908 forced him to give up heavy drinking, and he was cheered by his increasing acceptance by the people of Kristiania and exposure in the city’s museums. His later years were spent working in peace and privacy. Although his works were banned in Nazi Germany, most of them survived World War II, ensuring him a secure legacy.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Edvard Munch.