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Artists Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch Photo

Edvard Munch

Norwegian Painter and Printmaker

Movements and Styles: Expressionism, Symbolism

Born: December 12, 1863 - Loten, Norway

Died: January 23, 1944 - Oslo, Norway

Edvard Munch Timeline

Quotes

"In my art I have tried to explain to myself life and its meaning. I have also tried to help others to clarify their lives."
Edvard Munch
"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. Without anxiety and illness, I should have been like a ship without a rudder."
Edvard Munch
"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."
Edvard Munch
"From the moment of my birth, the angels of anxiety, worry, and death stood at my side, followed me out when I played, followed me in the sun of springtime and in the glories of summer."
Edvard Munch
"The camera cannot compete with the brush and the palette so long as it cannot be used in heaven or hell."
Edvard Munch

"I do not believe in the art which is not the compulsive result of man's urge to open his heart."

Edvard Munch Signature

Synopsis

Edvard Munch was a prolific yet perpetually troubled artist preoccupied with matters of human mortality such as chronic illness, sexual liberation, and religious aspiration. He expressed these obsessions through works of intense color, semi-abstraction, and mysterious subject matter. Following the great triumph of French Impressionism, Munch took up the more graphic, symbolist sensibility of the influential Paul Gauguin, and in turn became one of the most controversial and eventually renowned artists among a new generation of continental Expressionist and Symbolist painters. Munch came of age in the first decade of the 20th century, during the peak of the Art Nouveau movement and its characteristic focus on all things organic, evolutionary and mysteriously instinctual. In keeping with these motifs, but moving decidedly away from their decorative applications, Munch came to treat the visible as though it were a window into a not fully formed, if not fundamentally disturbing, human psychology.

Key Ideas

Edvard Munch grew up in a household periodically beset by life-threatening illnesses and the premature deaths of his mother and sister, all of which was explained by Munch's father, a Christian fundamentalist, as acts of divine punishment. This powerful matrix of chance tragic events and their fatalistic interpretation left a lifelong impression on the young artist, and contributed decisively to his eventual preoccupation with themes of anxiety, emotional suffering, and human vulnerability.
Munch intended for his intense colors, semi-abstraction and mysterious, often open-ended themes to function as symbols of universal significance. Thus his drawings, paintings, and prints take on the quality of psychological talismans: having originated in Munch's personal experiences, they nonetheless bear the power to express, and perhaps alleviate, any viewer's own emotional or psychological condition.
The frequent preoccupation in Munch's work with sexual subject matter issues from both the artist's bohemian valuation of sex as a tool for emotional and physical liberation from social conformity as well as his contemporaries' fascination with sexual experience as a window onto the subliminal, sometimes darker facets of human psychology.
In a sense similar to his near-contemporary, Vincent van Gogh, Munch strove to record a kind of marriage between the subject as observed in the world around him and his own psychological, emotional and/or spiritual perception.

Biography

Edvard Munch Photo

Childhood

Edvard Munch was born in 1863 in a rustic farmhouse in the village of Adalsbruk, located in Loten, Norway. His father, Christian Munch, was a practicing physician, married to Laura Catherine Bjolstad. The family, including sisters Johanne Sophie, Laura Catherine Inger Marie, and brother Peter, relocated to Oslo in 1864, following Christian's appointment as medical officer at Akershus Fortress, a military area which at the time was in use as a prison. Munch's mother died of tuberculosis in 1868, the same year Inger Marie was born. Within a decade, Munch's favorite sister, Sophie, just one year his senior and a gifted young artist, also died of tuberculosis. Munch's father, a fundamentalist Christian, thereafter experienced fits of depression and anger as well as quasi-spiritual visions in which he interpreted the family's illnesses as punishment of divine origin.

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Edvard Munch Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Edvard Munch
Interactive chart with Edvard Munch's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Édouard ManetÉdouard Manet
Paul GauguinPaul Gauguin
Vincent van GoghVincent van Gogh
Henri de Toulouse-LautrecHenri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Georges SeuratGeorges Seurat

Personal Contacts

Hans JaegerHans Jaeger
Christian KrohgChristian Krohg
Franz MarcFranz Marc

Movements

NaturalismNaturalism
ImpressionismImpressionism
Post-ImpressionismPost-Impressionism
PointillismPointillism
SymbolismSymbolism

Influences on Artist
Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch
Years Worked: 1880 - 1944
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Wassily KandinskyWassily Kandinsky
Ernst Ludwig KirchnerErnst Ludwig Kirchner
Max BeckmannMax Beckmann
Paul KleePaul Klee
Henri MatisseHenri Matisse

Personal Contacts

Franz MarcFranz Marc
August StrindbergAugust Strindberg
Max LindeMax Linde
Robert RosenblumRobert Rosenblum

Movements

SymbolismSymbolism
ExpressionismExpressionism
FauvismFauvism
SurrealismSurrealism

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Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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