Edvard Munch is the creator of some of the most haunting, fearful and memorable works of art of the modern era. The torment visible in much of Munch's work mirrors the hardship and anguish he endured in his personal life.
Born in southern Norway in 1863, Munch lost both his mother and sister during his childhood. His father was a religious maniac who suffered from bouts of extreme delirium and violence. Furthermore, Munch was a sickly child; hence, the themes of sickness and death are prominent in the artist's work.
At the age of seventeen, Munch entered the Oslo School of Art and Handicraft. Two years later, he joined the studio of a group of young artists. By the mid-1880s, Munch's free and subtle use of color was unlike that of any other Norwegian artist of the time. His creativity was highly influenced by revolutionary ideas of intellectuals such as Ibsen and Bjornson. Munch felt that art must be used as a weapon to fight against society and to express social themes. .
In 1885, Munch briefly visited Paris. In 1889, after receiving a scholarship, he returned to this city and remained in France for three years. Influenced by the French Impressionist movement which was prominent at the time, his style underwent radical changes. Visits to the Riviera, Italy and Germany also influenced his art.
In 1892, Munch exhibited in Berlin. His paintings caused such an outcry that the exhibit was shut down. The show did, however, travel to other European cities and influenced numerous artists. During this time, Munch conceived the idea of painting pictures in a cycle which would eventually give rise to the Frieze of Life, his most famous work, a part of which is The Scream.
By the early twentieth century, Munch was recognized as a talented artist in Norway and had achieved financial security which, unfortunately, did not bring him peace. After suffering from a nervous breakdown in 1908, he was placed in a sanatorium. Despite his mental instability, Munch continued to work and exhibit. Nature began to inspire him and he experimented with the presentation figures in space. In his final years, Munch used his art to sum up his life experience.
Munch lived a tormented and unhappy life but left behind an artistic legacy. The development of painting in central Europe and Germany is indebted to Edvard Munch. He died in 1944.