Edvard Munch (1863–1944)

Edvard Munch was a Norwegian painter, whose best known work, The Scream, has become one of the most iconic images of world art.

Munch, Anxiety, 1894

Image source: https://cultura.biografieonline.it/ansia-angoscia-munch/

Edvard Munch is best known as being a Norwegian born, expressionist painter, and printer. In the late 20th century, he played a great role in German expressionism, and the art form that later followed; namely because of the strong mental anguish that was displayed in many of the pieces that he created.

Early life and education

Edvard Munch was born in 1863 in a rustic farmhouse in the village of Adalsbruk, located in Loten, Norway. 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 a bohemian life under the influence of nihilist Hans Jæger, who urged him to paint his own emotional and psychological state (‘soul painting’). From this would presently emerge his distinctive style.

Edvard Munch photographie

Travel brought new influences and new outlets. 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.

Image source: https://www.artsy.net/

The age of Freud and psychoanalysis

Munch, Melancholy, 1892

Image source: Munch, Melancholy, 1892

Considering that Munch was of a generation with Sigmund Freud and the first rumblings of psychoanalysis, and that he too understood the power of subjective experience and the irrational forces of the mind, a more developed picture shows Munch as a diagnostician of the internal human condition who was well-educated on the artistic and intellectual trends of his time.

Munch’s early work, for example, was lighter in tone than his mature work and was largely influenced by the French Impressionists of the 1870s and 1880s. Though he would move on to darker subjects in the latter half of the 1880s, he was extremely prolific and continued painting bright landscapes and milder portraits of family members and friends throughout his career.

Studies on human condition

When Munch did begin painting darker subjects like The Sick Child—one of a series begun in 1885 that he would rework into the 1920s—he was responding to the psychic tumult of growing up in a home torn apart by illness, but he was also channeling the inward-looking aspects of the Symbolist movement, which took the form of a sort of troubled