Edvard Munch, Norwegian (1863 - 1944)

Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch (12 December 1863 – 23 January 1944) was a Norwegian painter and printmaker whose intensely evocative treatment of psychological themes built upon some of the main tenets of late 19th-century Symbolism and greatly influenced German Expressionism in the early 20th century. One of his most well-known works is The Scream of 1893.

Edvard Munch is best known as being a Norwegian born, expressionist painter, and printer. In the late 20th century, he played a great role in German expressionism, and the art form that later followed; namely because of the strong mental anguish that was displayed in many of the pieces that he created.

Edvard Munch was born in Norway in 1863, and was raised in Christiania (known as Oslo today). He was related to famous painters and artists in their own right, Jacob Munch (painter), and Peter Munch (historian). Only a few years after he was born, Edvard Munch's mother diet of tuberculosis in 1868, and he was raised by his father. Edvard's father suffered of mental illness, and this played a role in the way he and his siblings were raised. Their father raised them impounding fears of hell, and other deep seated issues, which is part of the reason why the work of Edvard Munch took a deeper tone, and why the artist was known to have so many repressed emotions as he grew up.

In 1885, Edvard Munch traveled to Paris, and was extremely influenced by impressionism artists Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, and followed by the post-impressionism artists Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, and Gauguin. In fact, the main style of Munch's work is post-impressionism, and focused on this style.
Much of the work which Edvard Munch created, was referred to as the style known as symbolism. This is mainly because of the fact that the pieces which he created, and the paintings he made, focused on the internal view of the objects, as opposed to the exterior, and what the eye could see. He would design many of his pieces around the way he felt, or the emotions he was repressing, which caused his work to showcase inward feeling, and more of a personal sense of art, as opposed to the external view, and the way everyone else would see the piece which he was portraying in any piece that he was designing.

A majority of the work which Edvard Munch, does showcase emotion, more often than not, and more so than any true external view of the images which he was creating. Much of his work depicts life and death scenes, love and terror, and the feeling of loneliness was often a feeling which viewers would note that his work patterns focused on. These emotions were depicted by the contrasting lines, the darker colors, blocks of color, somber tones, and a concise and exaggerated form, which depicted the darker side of the art which he was designing. These tones and shadows were used, to depict the emotions the images were feeling, which seemed to come from the deep seated feelings which Edvard Munch tended to keep in, when he was painting, and creating any art form that he worked on. It was also noted that the style in which Munch painted, was a prelude to the German expressionism movement, and the dark pieces that would come out of this period as well.

From about 1892, to 1908, Munch split most of his time in Paris and in Berlin; it was in 1909 which he decided to return to his hometown, and go back to Norway. During this period, much of the work that was created by Edvard Munch depicted his interest in nature, and it was also noted that the tones and colors that he used in these pieces, did add more color, and seemed a bit more cheerful, than most of the previous works he had created in years past. The pessimistic under toning which was quite prominent in much of his earlier works, had faded quite a bit, and it seems he took more of a colorful, playful, and fun tone with the pieces that he was creating, as opposed to the dark and somber style which he tended to work with earlier on during the course of his career. From this period, up to his death, Edvard Munch remained in Norway, and much of his work that was created from this period on, seemed to take on the similar, colorful approach which he had adopted, since returning home in 1909.

Edvard Munch passed away in 1944, in a small town which was just outside of his home town in Oslo. Upon his death, the works which he had created, were not given to family, but they were instead donated to the Norwegian government, and were placed in museums, in shows, and in various local public buildings in Norway. In fact, after his death, more than 1000 paintings which Edvard Munch had created were donated to the government. In addition to the paintings that he had created during the course of his career, all other art forms he created were also donated to the government. A total of 15,400 prints were donated, 4500 drawings and water color art was donated, and six sculptures which Edvard Munch had created, were all turned over to the Oslo government, and were used as display pieces in many locations.

Due to the fact that all of this work which Edvard Munch had created, was donated to the Norwegian government, the country decided to build the Munch Museum of Art. This was done to commemorate his work, his life, and the generosity which he showed, in passing his art work over to the government, so that it could be enjoyed by the general public, rather than be kept locked up by the family. Although the art which he did donate, was spread throughout a number of museums and art exhibits, a majority of them were kept in Oslo. And, most of the works which were donated by Munch, were placed in the Munch Museum of Art, to commemorate the work he did, as well as the unique style, and the distinct movements which he introduced to the world, through the creations which he had crafted.

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