- NAME: Edvard Munch
- OCCUPATION: Painter
- BIRTH DATE: December 12, 1863
- DEATH DATE: January 23, 1944
- Did You Know?: In 2012, Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream" sold for more than $119 million—a record-breaking price—in New York.
- EDUCATION: Royal School of Art and Design
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Löten, Norway
- PLACE OF DEATH: Ekely (near Oslo), Norway
Best Known For
Norwegian painter Edvard Munch is widely known for his iconic pre-Expressionist painting "The Scream" ("The Cry").
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Born in 1863 in Löten, Norway, famed painter Edvard Munch established a free-flowing, psychological-themed style all his own. His painting "The Scream" ("The Cry"; 1893), is one of the most recognizable works in the history of art. His later works proved to be less intense, but his earlier, darker paintings ensured his legacy. A testament to his importance, "The Scream" sold for more than $119 million in 2012—setting a new record.
"For as long as I can remember, I have suffered from a deep feeling of anxiety which I have tried to express in my art."
"I have no fear of photography, as long as it cannot be used in heaven and in hell."
"Illness, insanity, and death were the black angels that kept watch over my cradle and accompanied me all my life."
"From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity."
Edvard Munch was born on December 12, 1863, in Löten, Norway, the second of five children. In 1864, Munch moved with his family to the city of Oslo, where his mother died four years later of tuberculosis—he beginning of a series of familial tragedies in Munch's life: His sister, Sophie, also died of tuberculosis, in 1877 at the age of 15; another of his sisters spent most of her life institutionalized for mental illness; and his only brother died of pneumonia at age 30.
In 1879, Munch began attending a technical college to study engineering, but left only a year later when his passion for art overtook his interest in engineering. In 1881, he enrolled at the Royal School of Art and Design. The following year, he rented a studio with six other artists and entered his first show, at the Industries and Art Exhibition.
Three years of study and practice later, Munch received a scholarship and traveled to Paris, France, where he spent three weeks. After returning to Oslo, he began working on new paintings, one of which was "The Sick Child," which he would finish in 1886. In what would be seen as the first work to represent Munch’s break from the realist style, the painting symbolically captures intense emotion on the canvas—specifically depicting his feelings about the death of his sister nearly nine years earlier.
From 1889 (the year his father died) to 1892, Munch lived mainly in France—funded by state scholarships—embarking on the most productive, as well as the most troubled, period of his artistic life. It during this period that Munch undertook a series of paintings he called the "Frieze of Life," ultimately encompassing 22 works for a 1902 Berlin exhibition. With paintings bearing such titles as "Despair" (1892), "Melancholy" (c. 1892–93), "Anxiety" (1894), "Jealousy" (1894–95) and "The Scream" (also known as "The Cry")—the last of which, painted in 1893, would go on to become one of the most famous paintings ever produced—Munch’s mental state was on full display, and his style varied greatly, depending on which emotion had taken hold of him at the time. The collection was a huge success, and Munch soon became known to the art world. Subsequently, he found brief happiness in a life otherwise colored by excessive drinking, family misfortune and mental distress.
Success wasn't enough to tame Munch's inner demons for long, however, and as the 1900s began, his drinking spun out of control. In 1908, hearing voices and suffering from paralysis on one side, he collapsed and soon checked himself into a private sanitarium, where he drank less and regained some mental composure.
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