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.
Munch’s work has been frequently connected to his emotional pain and instability. However, when his art is considered in light of his personal diaries and letters and the writings of contemporary critics, a very different picture of the artist emerges. Contrary to the prevailing view, recent scholarship demonstrates that Munch was very much in control of his professional career, a savvy businessman keenly aware of how to manipulate the art market and shape popular opinion.
With his manic line patterns and color palettes, Munch introduced a new aesthetic to painting in the 1890s, and critics didn’t know how to categorize much of his early work. [...] But Munch lost something as he aged. His 20th-century paintings show technical mastery, but most critics find they lack the emotional impact of his Frieze of Life series, of which The Scream was a part. Some historians attribute the blandness of Munch’s later paintings to his improved mental health, but it’s possible that he simply ran out of ideas.
Edvard Munch (1863 –1944) was the Norwegian painter [...] He was influenced first by Naturalism and Impressionism, but he soon matured as a Symbolist. He explored themes of death, sex, love, fear, and longing in a way that strongly influenced the German Expressionists.
Especially concerned with the expressive representation of emotions and personal relationships, [Munch] was associated with the international development of Symbolism during the 1890s and recognized as a precursor of Expressionism, particularly in his paintings and woodcuts.
To express strong, subjective emotions required a different mode of expression than the naturalists'. In his search to express “the most subtle visions of the soul”, Munch eventually come to develop his characteristic idiom. Munch mixes inner and outer realities in large shapes, delineated by clear contours. The motifs are stylized, and Munch employs a set of fixed picture symbols to represent different states and emotions.
In 1892, he was invited to exhibit his most recent works at the Verein Berliner Kьnstler in Berlin. This show upset members of the Verein and the press so much that after only eight days they voted to close the exhibition. Of course, this scandal made Munch an overnight celebrity among the avant-garde so he decided to move to Berlin where he spent most of the next sixteen years.
Edvard Munch's iconic work, "The Scream," broke a world record tonight [May 02, 2012], becoming the most expensive artwork sold in an auction. Estimates for the sale varied from $80 million to $200 million. The artwork -- which is not a painting but is pastel on board -- ended up selling for $119,922,500, surpassing the previous record-holder, Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust," which sold for $106.5 million in 2010.
Munch left 1,000 paintings, 15,400 prints, 4,500 drawings and watercolors, and six sculptures to the city of Oslo, which built the Munch Museum at Tøyen. The museum houses the broadest collection of his works.
All his works are fragments of a great confession. Munch was twenty-eight when he embarked on the lifelong effort to paint his 'soul's diary', the story of his reactions to whatever happened to him in life. He intended the entire narrative to have a classical unity. The ambition was that by looking inside himself he would be capable of building an image of eternal truth from the transitory and particular laboratory of his own life's experiences.
Struggling against the materialism, conservatism and provincialism of late nineteenth-century Kristiania, a group of intellectuals had gathered in about 1886 under the leadership of the writer Hans Jaeger. 'Kristiania's Bohemia' adopted Munch, who embraced the group's values enthusiastically […] and was inspired to paint some outstanding works, such as The Men of Letters (1887).
While Munch had shaken the conservatism in establishment art, after 1900 he turned from his self-absorbed visions to the physical world of landscape and mundane activities. What appears to have developed into a synthetic Naturalism remained with inch for the rest of his life. It seemed to withdraw his art from contemporary directions and thus from the attention of art criticism.
In a general way, Munch knew that his emotions affected his perceptions and representations of the objects he was painting, and that "by painting the colors and lines and shapes [he had] seen in a moment of emotional stress, [he could] get the moment of stress to vibrate anew." […] And Munch certainly realized that apprehending art should produce a physiological response: "mere skill leaves one cold. The blood does not flow any faster."