Edvard Munch and the Modern Soul
Edvard Munch and the Modern Soul
  • Hong Ha Sunwoo
  • 승인 2014.09.10 20:33
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Have you ever seen the picture of a man screaming?  In the picture, the stunningly skinny body and astonishing face seem a little puzzling.  The male figure is among the most familiar modern art images and has been reproduced on items like t-shirts and refrigerator magnets.  The image is Edvard Munch's work named The Scream.  Munch describes it as, "The sun goes down and the clouds turn a blood red color.  I felt the crying of nature coming through.  I drew this picture so that the clouds really looked like they were bleeding.”  How about retracing his intense and dramatic images?





Munch Himself

Self-Portrait, 1895, ⓒ The Munch Museum / The Munch-Ellingsen Group /BONO, Oslo 2014.

Edvard Munch (1863-1944) is a world famous Norwegian artist.  He is regarded as one of the pi-oneers of early 20th century modernism.  In his art he expresses various emotions such as love, anxiety, loneliness, and grief.  His self-portraits contributed much to his public image.  He often dramatized himself as depressed, full of anxiety, and ill.  The expressions he presents show his artistic talent and provide insight into his own state of emotions.


Madonna, 1895~1902, ⓒThe Munch Museum /The Munch-Ellingsen Group/ BONO, Oslo 2014.

The Frieze of Life is a series of paintings that Munch devoted himself to creating throughout the 1890s.  They were created as consecutive ornamental room decorations.  The project dealt with fundamental existential experiences of human beings and their encounters with love, anxiety, and death.  In his paintings, a man is completely helpless in the face of death and shows expressions of pain, despair, and sudden silence.  Thus, Munch expressed human's intimate weaknesses.


The Sun,1910~1913, ⓒThe Munch Museum

Life affirmation is a theme in many of Edvard Munch's later pictures.  His use of dazzling colors and dynamic compositions imbue nature and daily life with vitality.  The works offset his anxiety, illness, and description of love.  An exemplar illustration is his image of The Sun.  The image was drawn from the villa where he spent his last years.  During the period, the idea of vitalism impacted European art.

The Night


The paintings in this section are filled with solitude, darkness, and melancholy.  In his later years, he strived to concentrate his work on activities at Ekely, apart from the world.  The night's blue light shown in these works, evokes a gloomy dark night, full of emotionally exaggerated and distorted forms.  This highlights the fate of humans as they face death.  Starry Night depicts Munch’s emotional mood.  City lights fill an open space and shining stars in the sky twinkle lonely.

Modern Breakthrough

Munch made his debut as an artist during a period of political and cultural upheaval in Norway.  He studied impressionistic styles in Nice and Paris, and when he lived there, he attended many galleries and exhibitions.  Through these activities, he learnt impressionistic techniques.  Munch also learnt fresh new ideas from the Bohemians in Kristiania and tried to express the symbolic images of Bohemian artists.

Munch expressed various emotions and his intense dramatic images have become well-known icons, portraying the landscape of the modern soul.  He also cut off existing conventions of drawing through his works.  He said, "One shall no longer paint interiors, people reading and women knitting.  They will be people who are alive, who breathe and feel, suffer and love."  By following his ideals, he provoked contemporary art critics and the conservative Bourgeoisie.


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