Edvard Munch Biography
“I was walking along the road with two friends.
The sun was setting.
I felt a breath of melancholy –
Suddenly the sky turned blood-red.
I stopped, and leaned against the railing, deathly tired –
looking out across the flaming clouds that hung like blood and a sword
over the blue-black fjord and town.
My friends walked on – I stood there, trembling with fear.
And I sensed a great, infinite scream pass through nature.”
Edvard Munch was born on December 12, 1863 in Loton, Norway. He was the son of an Army Medical Corps doctor, Christian Munch. His mother had the name of Laura Catherine. Edvard was the second of five children.
In 1864, their family moved to the city of Oslo. This is where he originated his art training. His mother died of tuberculosis in 1868. His aunt, Karen Bjolstad, took over the household. Then, to his despair, his sister Sophie died of tuberculosis, at the age of fifteen, in 1877.
In the early 1800’s, Edvard Munch became influenced by two older comrades, Christian Krohg and Frits Thaulow. They were into the Norwegian art scene, and had painting based on French naturalism.
In 1879, he attended a Technical College in November. A year later he became more serious with his work and left the Technical College.
The next year, in 1881, he entered a school of design. The first class he took dealt with freehand, and then he decided that he would take the modeling class.
Edvard Munch rented a studio with six other artists, in 1882. Their work was supervised by Christian Krohg.
In May of 1885, a scholarship from Frits Thaulow, had Edvard Munch travel to Paris. Edvard Munch stayed there for three weeks, and then he spent the summer at Borre and returned to Oslo to begin three of his major works. That is the time when his work began to be widely known.
Sometime in 1886, he fabricated the painting “The Sick Child ‘. In the painting the thoughts of the tragic death of his sister were let out and they were rather haunting. In the same year, Edvard Munch had finished his series of several versions of “The Sick Child”. He was then identified with the controversial group called Christiania-Boheme, after a novel by the anarchist Hans Jaegar.
Edvard Munch’s father died in 1886, in November. This was another catastrophe that Edvard Munch was forced to live through. From 1889 to 1892, state scholarships enabled him to live mainly in France. He had formed a habit of returning to Norway ever summer. Edvard Munch had a way of French Impressionist Technique. That was basically what his new paintings were all about. In Paris, the explored a way of painting while his intentions focused of replacing them with an art symbolizing his formidable emotions.
In 1890, Edvard Munch went to France, but in November, he had to be hospitalized, because he had Rheumatic Fever for two months. During that time, five or his paintings were destroyed by a fire in Oslo.
Edvard Munch had a series of paintings (there were six of them total), that were exhibited in the major art show in Berlin, in 1892. The series was titled, “The Frieze of Life”, and the six paintings caused such a shock that the authorities ordered the show to be terminated. Edvard Munch had so much feelings, passions, anguish, stress, sorrow, and pain in his paintings people did not understand. Those people were afraid of the truth. They said that his images were terrifying and threatening. The truth to that story is that Edvard Munch had pain that he needed to let out and express. When he lost his family to death, it hurt him mentally. He had to let out his feelings somehow. The people that attended the art show saw more than art, they saw one mans feelings. That is the best form of art. That is how Edvard Munch’s paintings played a big part of the modern German expressionism. Edvard Munch was even in an expressionism group, called “Der Blaue Reiter.” In the English language it means, “The Blue Rider.” He was also in a group called Dresden.
In 1895, yet another disaster, Edvard Munch’s brother Andreas died. He had way too many deaths to deal with, for being just one man. Over the years, Edvard Munch did lots of traveling. He mainly kept to Oslo, Norway, Germany, Aasgaardstrand, and Paris.
In 1902, he had come to an end in an unfortunate love affair. He also had lost the joint of a finger on his left hand, from a gunshot wound. Edvard Munch also met a man named Dr. Max Linde, and he purchased the painting Fertility, and then wrote a book about him. Edvard Munch, in the same year, had the privilege to exhibit twenty-two works from the “Frieze of Life” collection. That was a busy year for him.
The year of 1904, was a very important year for his paintings and prints. Edvard Munch made important contracts with dealers, Bruno Casirer from Berlin, and Commeter in Hamburg. This was for his rights to sale of his work in Germany.
1905 had a slight effect on two of the paintings that he had produced. It is said that he had a violent quarrel with his friend Ludvig Karsten. This is believed to have an effect on the paintings “The Fight” and “The Uninvited Guest”.
In 1908, Edvard Munch had an anxiety attack and was hospitalized. He had a nervous breakdown. That was said to have been brought on by heavy drinking and depression. He did recover after he had an electroshock treatment. That is when his art went under and extreme change. That is the time when he lost the deep feelings in his artwork and became more imagery, which showed nature.
In 1909, Edvard Munch had an important exhibition. The show consisted of one hundred oils and two hundred graphics. He had painted landscapes and life size male portraits.
1915, was an impressive year for Edvard Munch. He went to his third American show. It was held in San Francisco, and he was awarded a gold medal for his graphics. He also was then successful enough to give financial aid to young German artists.
In the year 1917, a book was published in Berlin. This book was titled Edvard Munch. Over the years Edvard Munch had traveled a lot. He had spread his art throughout the world. He had many exhibitions in several areas. Edvard Munch’s most comprehensive show was held at the “National Galerie”, in Berlin. In this who he had included 223 oil paintings.
Another dear tragedy. Edvard Munch’s sister Laura died in 1926.
In 1930, a terrible thing happened. Edvard Munch had afflicted eye trouble. This recurs for the rest of his life.
In 1931, Edvard Munch is left to deal with another death. His aunt Karen Bjolstad had died.
1937, eighty-two of his works in the German museums were branded as “degenerate” and they were confiscated and sold.
From 1940-1944 Edvard Munch quieted down. He continued to paint and make prints.
On January 23, 1944, a little more than a month after his eightieth birthday, he died peacefully at Ekely. He bequeathed all of his work to the city of Oslo. He had 1,008 paintings, 15,391 prints, 4,443 drawings and watercolors, and six sculptures.
In 1963, a museum was opened to show all of his great work. The museum is called, The Munch-museet.
Edvard Munch had extremely powerful paintings. The way that he expressed himself through his artwork is simply amazing. The pain that he had to deal with was terrible, but he put it to good use. I find him fascinating in so many ways. My personal favorite painting he has ever done would be, The Scream. When I read about him, he severely made a difference in my life, and has reflected upon many of my works of art.
© Copyright 2010 Rene Cerney