Edvard Munch

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Edvard Munch was a Norwegian painter who is most well known for his iconic painting “The Scream”. He was born on December 12, 1863 in Loten, Norway and was the second of five children. While he was still an infant, his family moved to Oslo. His childhood was beset by tragedies; his mother died when he was barely five years old, his sister Sophie died of tuberculosis, his brother died of pneumonia and another sister was mentally unstable and institutionalized for most of her life. Beginning in 1979, Munch attended a technical college where he studied engineering, but dropped his studies to pursue a career in art. In 1881, he enrolled at the Royal School of Art and Design. Here he studied the works of the old masters, and also attended courses in the painting of nudes at the Royal School of Drawing. He studied for some time with a leading artist named Christian Krohg. Some of his early works were influenced by French-inspired Realism. Shortly thereafter, he rented a studio with some other artists and entered his work for its first show at the Industries and Art Exhibition.

In 1885, Edvard Munch spent some time in Paris to study for a brief period. This was the time that he worked on one of his first pieces called “The Sick Child”. The subject of the picture was his sister Sophie. It was created painstakingly and depicted his inner turmoil at the state his sister was in. The piece received much criticism in the art world and subsequently, Munch altered his style, keeping in view the trends of the time, such as in the painting “Inger on the Beach” painted in a small coastal town named Asgardstrand. He also painted a picture of Hans Jæger, the leader of the Kristiania bohemians, and began documenting his life, a practice he continued throughout the rest of his life in different situations. He held a large exhibition of his work in 1889, and travelled throughout Europe, particularly Paris.

His painting “Night” completed in 1890, reflects his agony over the death of his father. He continued to exhibited this, and other works such as “Melancholy”, “Anxiety”, “Despair”and “Jealousy” in exhibitions in different cities. His most iconic painting is “The Scream” which is sometimes called the first ‘expressionistic’ picture, and is part of Munch’s collection of “soul paintings”. In it’s most recent acquisition, it was sold for a record breaking price of $119 million, making it one of the most valuable pieces of art in the world.

In 1892, Munch’s Berlin exhibition created great scandal because traditional, older artists considered his works to be “anarchist”. He associated with several artists and intellectuals in Berlin, including the Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland, the Danish writer Holger Drachman and the Swedish dramatist August Strindberg. His success gave him a brief period of happiness, but this was overshadowed by excessive drinking and health decline. He briefly checked himself into a sanitarium to regain his bearings but he could not escape the demons of his past. Edvard Munch continued to paint for the rest of his life and has a wide collection of work. He died in January 1944 at the age of 80 and is remembered as one of the most influential painters of the 20th century.

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