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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch (1863–1944) was a Norwegian painter and printmaker whose evocative treatment of psychological themes built upon Symbolism and greatly influenced German Expressionism in the early 20th century.

His best-known work is The Scream. The Scream has been imitated, parodied, and following its copyright expiration outright copied, which led to its highly recognizable status in popular culture. The image has used in the promotion of books, music, movies, music, clothing, cultural events, and pop culture merchandise.

A Tour of Edvard Munch’s Art

  • The Scream
    • “The Scream” by Edvard Munch depicts a figure with an agonized expression on a walkway overlooking the blue water and a tumultuous orange sky dominating the top third of the artwork. He later described his inspiration for the painting: “One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood. The color shrieked, and this became The Scream.” The German title Munch gave these works is “The Scream of Nature.” The Scream communicates immediate strong feelings upon viewing, and its impact on viewers has propelled this painting into the popular culture. Edvard Munch created four versions of “The Scream,” both paintings and pastels between 1893 and 1910, plus a lithograph stone of the image. Museum: National Museum of Art, Architecture, and Design – Norway
  • Kiss by the Window
    • “Kiss by the Window” by Edvard Munch forms part of his series known as “The Frieze of Life,” which examines the cycle of life, death, and love and was produced between 1893 and 1918. In this painting, Munch depicts one of the stages of a relationship between men and women. It is a motif of a couple kissing, which he had experimented with over several years. In this version of the Kiss, there is a contrast between the world inside and outside of the room. The outside world shows movement, whereas the interior of the room is timeless, with the couple frozen in their embrace. In this version, the couple’s abstract form, in which their bodies appear to be merged as one, indicates their sense of belongingness and togetherness. Museum: National Museum of Art, Architecture, and Design – Norway
  • Madonna
    • Madonna by Edvard Munch is the usual title for this composition. Munch painted several versions of the composition, showing a bare-breasted half-length female figure, between 1892 and 1895, using oils on canvas. He also produced versions in print form. Munch used more than one title, including both “Loving Woman” and “Madonna.” Munch is not known for religious artwork and was not known as a Christian. The emphasis in this painting is on the beauty and perfection of his friend and model for the work. Also, an expression of his worship of her as an ideal of womanhood. Edvard Munch had to cope with mental illness during his life, and he experienced disappointment in love and his health. In Munch’s “Frieze of Life,” he spent more than 30 years of his career depicting the stages of relationships between men and women and is part of what Munch called “the battle between men and women that is called love.” It includes portrayals of attraction, courtship, realization, and disappointment. Museum: Kunsthalle Hamburg
  • Portrait of Friedrich Nietzsche

Edvard Munch

A Tour of Artists & their Art

Quotes by Edvard Munch

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“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.”

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“Disease, insanity, and death were the angels that attended my cradle, and since then have followed me throughout my life.”

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“Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye… it also includes the inner pictures of the soul.”

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“When I paint a person, his enemies always find the portrait a good likeness.”

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“I learned early about the misery and dangers of life, and about the afterlife, about the external punishment which awaited the children of sin in Hell.”

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“Without anxiety and illness, I should have been like a ship without a rudder.”

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“I have no fear of photography as long as it cannot be used in heaven and in hell.”

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“Death is pitch-dark, but colors are light. To be a painter, one must work with rays of light.”

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“I build a kind of wall between myself and the model so that I can paint in peace behind it. Otherwise, she might say something that confuses and distracts me.”

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

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“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.”

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“Oil-painting is a developed technique. Why go backward?”

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“In common with Michelangelo and Rembrandt, I am more interested in the line, its rise, and fall, than in color.”

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“For as long as I can remember, I have suffered from a deep feeling of anxiety, which I have tried to express in my art.”

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“The colors live a remarkable life of their own after they have been applied to the canvas.”

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“By painting colors and lines and forms seen in quickened mood, I was seeking to make this mood vibrate as a phonograph does. This was the origin of the paintings in The Frieze of Life. ”

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“To die is as if one’s eyes had been put out, and one cannot see anything anymore. Perhaps it is like being shut in a cellar. One is abandoned by all. They have slammed the door and are gone. One does not see anything and notices only the damp smell of putrefaction.”

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“Painting picture by picture, I followed the impressions my eye took in at heightened moments. I painted only memories, adding nothing, no details that I did not see. Hence the simplicity of the paintings, their emptiness.”

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“I find it difficult to imagine an afterlife, such as Christians, or at any rate, many religious people, conceive it, believing that the conversations with relatives and friends interrupted here on earth will be continued in the hereafter.”

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“I build a kind of wall between myself and the model so that I can paint in peace behind it. Otherwise, she might say something that confuses and distracts me.”

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Reflections

  • “When I paint a person, his enemies always find the portrait a good likeness.” – Edvard Munch

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“The colors live a remarkable life of their own after they have been applied to the canvas.”
– Edvard Munch

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Photo Credit: Akseli Gallen-Kallela [Public domain]

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