Munch, Edvard

Munch, Edvard Biography

Norwegian artist, whose brooding, anguished paintings and graphic works, based on personal grief and obsessions, were instrumental in the development of expressionism.

Born in Luten, Norway, on December 12, 1863, Munch began oil painting at the age of 17 in now Oslo. A state grant, awarded in 1885, enabled him to study briefly in Paris. For 20 years thereafter Munch worked chiefly in Paris and Berlin. At first influenced by impressionism and postimpressionism, he then turned to a highly personal style and content, increasingly concerned with images of illness and death. In 1892, in Berlin, an exhibition of his paintings so shocked the authorities that the show was closed. Undeterred, Munch and his sympathizers worked throughout the 1890s toward the development of German expressionist art.

Perhaps the best known of all Munch's art work is The Scream (1893, Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo). This, and the harrowing The Sick Child (1881-1886, Nasjonalgalleriet. Melancholy suffuses oil paintings such as The Bridge.

Munch was heir to the traditional mysticism and anxiety of northern European painting, which he re-created in a highly personal art of the archetypal and symbolic. His artwork continues to speak to the typically modern situation of the individual facing the uncertainty of a rapidly changing contemporary world.

In 1908 Munch's anxiety became acute and he was hospitalized. He returned to Norway in 1909 and died in Oslo on January 23, 1944.

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