Edvard Munch - The man behind "Scream" and The Munch Museum

Edvard Munch - The man behind "Scream" and The Munch Museum

Edvard Munch is the man behind the famous painting “Scream”, a painting which has been parodied and made references to in many movies and cartoons. Munch was almost completely self-taught, his formal art education including only to drawing at the Academy of Drawing (led by a sculptor) and some months in Paris under the French master Léon Bonnat.

Munch experimented with different painting techniques, paints, colors, motives and canvas. He often made stylized, simplified paintings, with strong use of color as symbol of feelings.

“Scream” from 1893 is one of these, actually the most radical example of stylized Munch paintings. The strong red and yellow in the sky is contrasted to the person’s black clothes. Making “Scream” was a long process, and Munch went through several stages of simplifying it to get it just right, just the way he wanted. He sought to convey a panic attack, a feeling of despair which once caught him while watching the sun set. Edvard Munch described it like this “Then the sun set. The sky suddenly turned to blood and I felt the giant scream of nature.” Though the scene in “Scream”, the landscape and the person are simplified, the background can be recognized as the Oslo Fjord seen from Ekeberg.

The Scream has been the target of several high-profile art thefts. In 1994, the version in the National Gallery was stolen. A guy in Paris nearly got away with stealing several paintings from the Louvre. However, after planning the crime, getting in and out past security, he was captured only two blocks away when his Ford Econoline van ran out of gas.

When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obviously stupid error, he replied: "I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh."

It was recovered several months later. In 2004, The Scream and Madonna were stolen from the Munch Museum. Both paintings were recovered in 2006. They had sustained some damage and went back on display in May 2008, after undergoing restoration.

Edvard Munch created several versions of The Scream in various media. The Munch Museum holds one of two painted versions (1910, see gallery) and one pastel. The National Gallery of Norway holds the other painted version (1893, shown to right). A fourth version, in pastel, is owned by Norwegian billionaire Petter Olsen.

Edvard Munch lived from 1863 to 1944. He grew up in Christiania (now Oslo), Norway, and that was also where he died of pneumonia. Art and literature ran in his family - his uncle was a historian, his father’s cousin was a poet, his grandfather’s cousin was a renowned painter.

Many things have been said about Edvard Munch, for instance that he was a bit of an eccentric of poor health and with a nervous temper. Some of the rumors of his eccentricity may have been intentionally caused by himself - artists at that time were almost supposed to be unordinary and a bit “unstable”. Whether this is completely true or not shall be unsaid.

However, that Munch feared death is true. The conclusion is based on his paintings where fear is dominant and his personal letters where he actually says so himself. The reason for this his fearing death to a greater extent than what is usual can be found in his childhood. His mother died of tuberculosis when Munch was only five years old, and when he was 13, his older sister died too, of the same disease.

Munch spent many years abroad, mostly in France and in Germany. The currents in French and German art inspired and influenced his painting, but he kept his personal style. The years abroad made him famous in Europe, especially after his “succés de scandale” in Berlin in 1892 where he held an exhibition which was considered representative of radical, unacceptable French currents. The exhibit was closed after only one week, but after the publicity around it, Munch’s paintings were all of a sudden in high demand in Germany. The exhibit was shown all over the country.

Most of Munch’s work is in the National Gallery and the Munch Museum, both in Oslo. Some of the paintings can be found in private houses and other museums. For instance “The Sun” is a large canvas decoration made for the University of Oslo, where it decorates the Large Hall.

The Scream has been the target of several high-profile art thefts. In 1994, the version in the National Gallery was stolen. A guy in Paris nearly got away with stealing several paintings from the Louvre. However, after planning the crime, getting in and out past security, he was captured only two blocks away when his Ford Econoline van ran out of gas.

When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obviously stupid error, he replied: "I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh."

It was recovered several months later. In 2004, The Scream and Madonna were stolen from the Munch Museum. Both paintings were recovered in 2006. They had sustained some damage and went back on display in May 2008, after undergoing restoration.

The Munch Museum

Edvard Munch created several versions of The Scream in various media. The Munch Museum holds one of two painted versions (1910, see gallery) and one pastel. The National Gallery of Norway holds the other painted version (1893, shown to right). A fourth version, in pastel, is owned by Norwegian billionaire Petter Olsen.

When Munch died in January 1944, it transpired that he had unconditionally bequeathed all his remaining works to the City of Oslo. Edvard Munch's art is the most significant Norwegian contribution to the history of art, and he is the only Norwegian artist who has exercised a decisive influence on European art trends, above all as a pioneer of Expressionism in Germany and the Nordic countries.

The Munch Museum opened in 1963 and was purpose-built to house this unique collection of approximately 1100 paintings, 4500 drawings and 18 000 prints. Major works will always be on display in the museum. The selection is changed regularly. In 1994, expansion and rehabilitation of the museum was financed by the Japanese company Idemitsu Kosan Ltd. The museum was partly rebuilt in 2005 to upgrade security.

The museum's programme also comprises film screenings, audioguides, concerts, guided tours and lectures. The museum has a shop with catalogues and souvenirs and a café that serves salads, pastries, sandwiches etc. The museum's library houses literature on Edvard Munch and other artists.

Contact:
The Munch Museum
Visiting adress:
Tøyengata 53
0578 OSLO, NORWAY

Postal address:
City of Oslo
Agency for Cultural Affairs
The Munch Museum
Post Box 1453 Vika, 0116 Oslo, Norway
Tel. +47 23 49 35 00
Fax +47 23 49 35 01
Email info.munch@munch.museum.no
Internet: http://www.munch.museum.no/

Edvard Munch at the National Gallery of Ireland

On 19 September the National Gallery of Ireland opens an exhibition of various prints by Edvard Munch.

An exhibition of 40 prints by Edvard Munch will go on display at the National Gallery of Ireland from 19 September until 6 December 2009. Munch was an artist who continually pondered, revised and repeated his images, and the prints are frequently the finest and most powerful versions of his subjects. This exhibition will include lithography, etching and drypoint, with works such as 'The Scream' (1895) and 'Madonna' (1895/1902), as well as one of Munch’s greatest self-portrait prints of 1895. Portraits of the poet Stéphane Mallarmé; Swedish playwright, August Strindberg; and the philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche also feature. Also on view will be several of his impressive woodcuts, printed in color using an innovative technique, such as 'The Girls on the Bridge' (1918). The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, ‘Edvard Munch: Prints’, by Peter Black, Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, and Magne Bruteig, Munch Museum, Oslo (€16.95, The Gallery Shop).

The renowned Norwegian symbolist, painter, print maker, etcher and wood engraver Edvard Munch (1863-1944), was born in Løten, Norway. He was the second oldest of five siblings. For further information visit: http://www.nationalgallery.ie/

Also see:
http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/munch/
http://www.munch-museets-venner.no/
The National Museum of Art: http://www.nationalmuseum.no/
Munch Museum and Oslo National Galleries paintings of Norway: http://www.liv.net/oslo-art.html
The Conservation of Scream and Madonna



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