Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863 -1944) was active for more than 60 years – from the 1880s until his death. He was a prolific artist whose range, and volume, of work is staggering. On his death, he bequeathed to the city of Oslo, 1008 painting, 4,443 drawings, and 15,391 prints in addition to etchings, lithographs, woodcuts etc. All of which makes it even more ironic that today he is known the world over for one single image – the iconic Scream.
Munch experimented in different movements – from Pointillism to Expressionism. Yet, it is in his sorrowful paintings that he reveals his soul and shares the enduring sadness he felt after the death of his mother and then his sister.
Happy Birthday to the artist who gave us The Scream
In the late 19th Century there was a flourishing of the arts in Norway – the country’s three shining stars of the era were composer Edvard Grieg, the playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Edvard Munch, the expressionist whose “The Scream” is the second most iconic and well-known painting in the world – second only to the Mona Lisa. Munch’s existential angst expressed in The Scream is of course a complete contrast to the calmness and serenity of the Mona Lisa.
Munch was born on this day, December 12, 1863 into a family that battled illnesses and mental issues, and much of this was expressed in his painting. His mother and beloved sister both died of tuberculosis, and he was raised by his father who suffered from mental illness. The scars of his childhood carried into his adult life and expressed themselves in his art. The Scream was part of a series known as The Frieze of Life – the other were called Melancholy, Jealousy, Despair, Anxiety, and Death in the Sickroom – all of which gives us an insight into Munch’s state of mind.
The Scream is so well-known that the rest on Munch’s incredible body of work mostly seems to get neglected. Munch lived alone and for him his paintings were like his children. He lived in isloation in his estate outside Oslo surrounding himself with his huge body of work. When he died in 1944, authorities found a collection of over 15,000 prints, almost 4500 drawings, and over a 1000 paintings in his estate. One of the largest collections of his works can be found in the National Museum in his hometown Oslo.