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Edvard Munch


Munch (1863–1944) was one of the leading artists in Europe at the end of the nineteenth century. As a pioneer in the development of modern art he sought painterly means to express the distress and anguish suffered by individuals in a fastmodernizing world. His works often deal with his personal familiarity with sickness, loss and grief.

Munch was born in the village of Løten in south-east Norway, but the family soon moved to Christiania (Oslo). His father, a doctor, brought up the family after the death of his mother from tuberculosis in 1868. His sister also died from the disease and Munch himself suffered from ill health as a child.

Munch trained at the Royal School of Art and Design in Christiania, winning a travel scholarship to Paris in 1889. There he encountered the work of Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and was especially influenced by Gauguin’s Synthetism and rejection of realism. In 1892 he moved to Berlin, where he met August Strindberg and other artists and writers of the avant-garde. It was during this period that he produced his most famous work, The Scream (Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo), and also began working on the cycle known as The Frieze of Life.

His pictures address themes such as sexuality, illness, death and the anxieties of modern living. In 1908 he suffered a nervous breakdown and returned to his native Norway. His later works are less concerned with emotional conflict and drama.