The more you know


He was born on December 12, 1863 in a small town near Oslo. His childhood was marked by a series of griefs that left an indelible mark on him: at 5 the loss of his mother due to tuberculosis and at 14 his sister, who was his mother, also from tuberculosis.
He stayed with his father suffering from bouts of schizophrenia, the situation will calm down following the arrival of his aunt who will introduce him to art.
Munch says: “Illness, Madness, Death: it was the black angels who watched over my cradle and who will accompany me throughout my life”; in fact the subjects of his paintings will be death, illness and madness. The essential point of his poetics is love seen, however, as the personification of death (death-love).
He saw the woman in three stages:
-Verginal- represents adolescence, when the woman is still pure
-Death- woman as a representation of death
Although he was a handsome man, he has conflicting relationships with women; initially he has ties with two married women but the most important girlfriend was Tulla Larsen, she wanted to marry the painter but he is against it because he has the sense of abandonment that has accompanied him since he was little and moreover he sees marriage as a sort of limitation of his art.
He enrolled in the Academy “Arts and Crafts” in Oslo after having tried in the faculty of law.
Thanks to a scholarship he managed to go to Paris in 1890, where he met the Impressionists.
After that he returns to Norway, later he will often travel between Norway and Germany, and in Berlin he will exhibit his first works that will be defined as “scrawls”.
He goes to a “little black pig” bar, frequented by many artists such as August Strinberg who is a playwright.
Success is increasingly evident, like love for Tulla which is conflictual; one day, during a heated quarrel between the two, a pistol shot starts which will cause the painter to lose a finger. She will later marry another but her obsession with her remains alive even after the breakup, so much so that all the women he paints will have her face.
This pain leads him to drink a lot and fall into depression, all of which leads to a collapse in 1908 and he will be hospitalized in the Norwegian Sanatorium. In 1943 he returns to Norway and goes to live in a house where he leaves his paintings to dry on an apple tree, he has a visceral love for them.
In this period a bomb explodes near his house which will make the glass explode; he will remain at home without the windows and will catch pneumonia of which he will die in ’44.

Sick little girl“: affected by impressionist painting, the eye sees what she has in front of it blurred and tries to get used to the new light; her brushstroke seems to almost scratch the canvas.

Dance of life“: represents the three women; the one dressed in white is the virginal, the one in red is the passionate (the red line of the dress surrounds the man) and the one dressed in black is death. According to him, the woman’s only power was sexual, an existential anguish always appears in her paintings, a bit like the symbolic color.
The sign is incisive, dramatic, with quick strokes; the lawn is painted with dense brushstrokes, without half tints.

Scream“: in this too it represents existential anguish, it is a self-portrait. Munch says that he was with some of his friends on a fjord when suddenly he heard a scream cross nature and saw the sky turn blood red.
The two friends of the painter abandoned him in fear. Everything refers to the loss of balance: from the lines that sway on the verge of being almost sucked into a vortex, to the bridge that is an expedient of the diagonal and gives a sense of depth and distance. His face is deformed, his hands crush his ears, as if he does not want to hear the scream that is deformed like everything around him.
He makes several copies of it, even lithographs and woodcuts because the incisive mark of the print helps the dramatic representation.

Self-portrait between the clock and the bed“: he attributes symbolic value to both the clock and the bed, where the bed stands for illness or death and the clock represents the passing of time, the stroke of the fatal hour; life is enclosed in a claustrophobic room.
He is standing with his arms raised, he is faceless but with a red spot as a peculiarity; portraits of him hang on the walls.

Madonna“: love-death combination, there is absolute respect for women. The woman is naked, with her arms behind her body and her hair spread over her shoulders, her face, with dark and black marks, is leaning backwards; the picture is cut at the pubis.
The whole scene is played on the red-black duotone, excluding the pink of her body.
The woman is represented in the extreme moment of sexual pleasure, becoming more acute thanks to the series of swaying contours like spermatozoa, which form a sort of fetus around the woman.


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