Posted in Art

Edvard Munch

the_screamProlific Norwegian painter and printmaker Edvard Munch was born 12 December 1863 in Ådalsbruk in Løten. He was related to painter Jacob Munch (1776–1839) and historian Peter Andreas Munch (1810–1863). Often ill for much of the winters and kept out of school, Edvard was artistic and received tutoring in history and literature, and entertained the children with vivid ghost-stories and tales of Edgar Allan Poe. An oppressive religious upbringing plus poor health and vivid ghost stories, helped inspire macabre visions and nightmares in Edvard.

Munch’s interest in art increased after seeing the work of others at the newly formed Art Association, particularly the Norwegian landscape school whose paintings inspired him to start painting in oils.In 1879, Munch enrolled in a technical college to study engineering, where he excelled in physics, chemistry, and math. However frequent illnesses interrupted his studies, and Munch left the college determined to become a painter.In 1881, Munch enrolled at the Royal School of Art and Design of Christiania and In 1883, Munch took part in his first public exhibition and shared a studio with other students. Munch experimented with many styles, including Naturalism and Impressionism as seen in Portrait of Hans Jæger, and Rue Lafayette and was also inspired by Post-Impressionism.And His subject matter became symbolist 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 which led to a two-year state scholarship to study in Paris. His picture, Morning (1884), was displayed at the Norwegian pavilion.

He spent his mornings working in the studio and afternoons visiting exhibitions, galleries, and museums and was enthralled by the vast display of modern European art, particularly: Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Munch created the Synthetist aesthetic, as seen in Melancholy. He moved to Berlin for four years and became part of an international circle of writers, artists and critics and sketched his ideas for The Frieze of Life, Ashes, Death in a Sick Room and The Scream in December 1893, Unter den Linden in Berlin held an exhibition of Munch’s work. showing, among other pieces, Study for a Series: Love. This began a cycle he later called the Frieze of Life – A Poem about Life, Love and Death.

In 1896, Munch moved to Paris, where he focused on graphic representations of his “Frieze of Life” themes and also developed his woodcut and lithographic technique. Munch also produced a multi-colored versions of “The Sick Child”, several nudes and multiple versions of Kiss. Munch returned to Christiania in 1897 and painted landscapes and his final painting in “The Frieze of Life” series, The Dance of Life . In 1900 he returned to Berlin, where he painted Girls on the Jetty In 1902, he displayed his works at the hall of the Berlin Succession.

Despite his success Munch’s self-destructive and erratic behavior continued, and his wife left him after he got involved in an accidental shooting. This deeply upset him and he painted Still Life (The Murderess) and The Death of Marat. In 1903-4, Munch exhibited in Paris where his work inspired the Fauvists, who were famous for their boldly false colors, and When the Fauves held their own exhibit in 1906, Munch was invited and displayed his works with theirs. Munch also received many commissions for portraits and also painted many landscapes, human figures and situations. However, in the autumn of 1908, Munch’s anxiety, compounded by excessive drinking and brawling, had become acute. Subject to hallucinations and feelings of persecution, he entered the clinic of Dr. Daniel Jacobson for the next eight months which stabilized his personality, and after returning to Norway in 1909, his work became more colourful and less pessimistic. Museums also began to purchase his paintings and 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 & produced several full-length portraits of high quality of friends and patrons & also created landscapes and scenes of people at work and play, using a new vibrant colourful optimistic style. Munch spent his last two decades at his nearly self-sufficient estate in Ekely, at Skøyen, Oslo, painting farm life and unsparing self-portraits, detailing his emotional and physical states.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the Nazis labeled Munch’s work “degenerate art” (along with Picasso, Paul Klee, Matisse, Gauguin and many other modern artists) and removed his 82 works from German museums and When the Germans invaded Norway in 1941 seventy-six year old Munch lived in fear of the Nazi confiscating the entire collection of his art which was stored in the second floor of his house, Luckily Seventy-one of the paintings previously taken by the Nazis have been recovered through purchase by collectors, including The Scream and The Sick Child. Munch died in his house at Ekely near Oslo on 23 January 1944, about a month after his 80th birthday and his remaining works were bequeathed to the city of Oslo, and collection of approximately 1,100 paintings, 4,500 drawings, and 18,000 prints can be seen at the Munch Museum at Tøyen.

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