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munch
(1863-1944)

biography
gallery
the scream

the scream canvas print

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peter watkins' edvard munch 1974 film

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munch



munch

e d v a r d   m u n c h  :  b i o g .  ]


"Disease, insanity and death were the angels
which attended my cradle."

- Edvard Munch


biography | gallery | the scream | books | prints
edvard munch
marc chagall | jean cocteau | salvador dali
hundertwasser | frida kahlo | henri matisse | egon schiele


munch



biography

  • Added details on the greatest film biography of an artist ... ever! Peter Watkins' Edvard Munch (1974).

    Born on a farm in Loten, Norway, in 1863, Edvard Munch was the second of five children of Christian Munch, a doctor in the Army Medical Corps, and his wife laura. The family moved to Oslo, then known as Christiania, a year later and had not been there long when the first disaster struck.

    Munch was just five years old when his mother died of tuberculosis. His aunt moved in to the family home to take care of the young children. Nine years later his elder sister Sophie succumbed to the same illness.

    munch

    The loss of Sophie, to whom he was very close, affected Munch badly. His young mind came to believe she had somehow been sacrificed to save him and images of her became a persistent theme in his work when he began to paint.

    Munch's original plan was to be an engineer but just a year into his studies at the local Technical College he realised that his talent lay elsewhere and enrolled at art school.

    One of his earliest paintings to go on public display was The Sick Child, a portrait of Sophie as she lay dying. It caused a scandal in those staid times - critics described it as 'trash' and an 'abortion'.

    This was not an unusual response to Munch's work bevause he tapped into emotions by means of a violent aggression in his work. This had no precedent in the world of art and seemed to critics and the public alike obscenely intrusive at the time.

    munch
    puberty
    (1895)


    His first show in Berlin, in 1892, provoked such a furore that the Kaiser had to intervene and the exhibition was forced to close after just one week.

    The following year he painted The Scream as part of his The Frieze Of Life series that takes as its themes sickness, anxiety, pain and love. It is an image of alienation and discord that seems to encapsulate modern feelings of angst.

    David Lee, editor of the visual arts newsletter, Jackdaw says:

      'Munch tried not to give a real or naturalistic account of his surroundings but to depict the intensity of his feelings. And he succeeds. When you look at The Scream you are viewing one of the earliest Expressionist paintings.'

    Eventually there were four versions, including a woodcut. Until one was stolen in August 2004, two of these were housed at the Munch Museum in Oslo. A private collector owns the third. And the fourth - the one that was stolem and recovered in 1994 - is on display at Oslo's National Gallery.

    munch evening on karl johan
    (1892)


    The completion of his most seminal work was marked by two more family tragedies - first his younger sister developed schizophrenia, then his brother Andreas died.

    Munch's love life had proved no more stabilising. Despite his inner turmoil, he always cut an immaculate figure, kitted out in tailored suits and gloves.

    He was also courageous - he once sailed into a squall to combat his morbid terror of death by drowning - and these two qualities made him attractive to women. It was with an older woman, Millie Thaulow, the wife of his cousin, to whom he lost his virginity at the age of 22.

    As a consequence, he was never alble to consider sex as a happy release. Instead, ridden with feelings of guilt and jealously of his cousin, he saw it as a thing of terror. This dangerous, never-trusting intensity pervaded all his later love affairs.

    In 1899 he became involved with Tulla Larsen, the daughter of a wealthy wine merchant. It was a difficult and hot-tempered relationship. Munch began to drink excessively, then tried to escape it altogether by moving away. He was forced to come back when, in a fit of hysterical outrage, Tulla threatened to kill himself.

    By the time Munch arrived at her side she was holding a pistol, ready to shoot. In the ensuring melee, the gun went off and a bullet pierced Munch's left hand, splintering two joints of his ring finger and making it hard for him to hold his palette.

    munch the dance of life
    (1899)


    A few years later, he suffered a nervous breakdown and was admitted to a clinic where he received electric shock treatment and spent several months recovering. He had an ambivalent attitude to recovery. He said:

      'I would not cast off my illness for there is much in my art that I owe to it.'

    And when he emerged, teetotal and considerably more stable than before, he did indeed seem to have lost his edge.

    Nonetheless, he continued to paint and when he died in 1944 aged 81, habing bequeathed all the works he still owned to the city of Oslo, Norway acquired 1,200 paintings, 4,500 drawings and 18,000 prints.

    Whether or not his most famous work will be recovered and returned to the city, only time will tell.


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    added details on the greatest film biography of an artist ... ever! peter watkins' edvard munch (1974).


    personal recommendation

    edvard munch
    behind the scream

    b i o g r a p h y

    one of those books you are so glad you bought. this book is the first comprehensive rnglish-language biography of munch and, of course, long overdue. i recommend it because after reading it i thought i understood munch's mental suffering, and that is helped by the authour using extracts from the great man's diaries.

    available at: amazon.com




  • feb 10 - art rarities store


    prints


    e d v a r d   m u n c h   b o o k s  ]



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    biography | gallery | the scream | books | posters
    edvard munch
    marc chagall | jean cocteau | salvador dali
    hundertwasser | frida kahlo | henri matisse | egon schiele

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