Edvard Munch

Essay by polish00 December 2003

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On December 12, 1863 in Loten, Norway, a child was born. A child clueless to the world around him, that would create a major wave in the art world as we know it. This child's name was Edvard Munch. Munch was born into a family that was known for its contribution to the political and cultural life of Norway. He was the second oldest of five children. When he was five, his mother died of tuberculosis. His oldest sister died ten years later of the same disease. Later another sister had become mentally ill. His brother and his father also died while Edvard was young.

Munch showed an interest in drawing at an early age, but had very little training. He attended the school of Art and Handcraft in Christiania, which is now Oslo. Munch studied under a Norwegian naturalistic painter by the name of Christian Krohg, who introduced Munch to French Impressionism. In 1890, Munch was influenced by the Postimpressionist works of French painters Paul Garguin and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec which created a major change in his style. Munch spent most of his time in Paris and Berlin between 1892 and 1908. On November 5, 1892, his first exhibition opened and created a bitter controversy which eventually became a major influence in the development of German Expressionism. The most important years in Munch's career were the 16 years between his first exhibition in 1892 and his nervous breakdown in 1908. Munch moved back to Norway in 1910 to live out the rest of his life. During this time, Munch had a much brighter outlook on life. His now vision of the world can be seen on the murals he painted for the Aula of Oslo University. On January 23, 1944 in Ekely, Norway, Edvard Munch died.

Edvard Munch lived during the period of Impressionism and the early period of German Expressionism. Impressionist style was used as an attempt to accurately and objectively record visual reality in terms of light and color. Expressionism focused more on the emotions and responsed created within the artist. Basically , so that others could view the world through the artist eyes. Munch used several mediums in creating his works. However he mostly did paintings on a canvas. In 1894, Munch was influenced by the revival of the graphic arts in Germany. So he began to make prints using mediums of etching, lithography, and woodcut. Munch became on of the most signifacant modern printmakers. When Munch was 26 years old, he wrote "I shall paint living people who breathe, feel, suffer, and love. The sacredness of this will be understood and people will take off their hats as though they were in church." This made him the greatest Norwegian artist as well as on of the most noted figures in the early development of modern art.

One of Munch's most familiar paintings, The Scream(also known as The Cry) was created in 1893. He used casein waxed crayon and tempera on cardboard paper. The actual size of the painting is 36 inches by 29 inches. It is now at the National Gallery in Oslo. The painting shows a man standing on a bridge holding on to his head as though he were covering his ears to hold out the insufferable pain and noise that is acually coming from inside of his head. You can tell that everything is coming from his head because of the two people standing further down the bridge are totaly unaffected. The lines in the painting lead your eyes from the screaming man around the painting until you eventually see the red and orange sky. There are a few lines of green in the sky to compliment the red. The orange in the sky and on the small island near the bridge compliment the blue in the water. The whole painting just sways from one side to the next just like the way the man is swaying. I like this painting. To be honest I have always liked this painting. Its dark, its gloomy it makes me realize that everyone has their problems. Some more so than others. When I look at this painting I can kind of see what he is thinking and going through. It looks as though he just wants everything to just stop. He wants to start over. He stands there holding his head, wondering why does this have to be my live. I'm sure that everyone has had a moment like that in their own life. Where everything just happened to go the wrong way and they wish they could stop for a minute, rewind, and give it another try. But unfortunatly, that is just not possible. So instead of letting the problems of life bring us down we should let them inspire us. At least thats what Munch did. What if Munch had taken the easy road out? What would the art world be like today? If he can live to be 80 years old, well then it should be a walk in the park for us.