Edvard Munch, (born December 12, 1863, Löten, Norway, Ekely, near Oslo), Norwegian painter and printmaker whose intensely evocative treatment of psychological themes built upon some of the main tenets of late 19th-century Symbolism and greatly influenced German Expressionism in the early 20th century. His painting The Scream, or The Cry (1893), can be seen as a symbol of modern spiritual anguish.
Edvard Munch is one of the pioneers of modern art, and is considered as a forerunner of the Expressionist movement. Munch was a man who was transfixed by the visual world that surrounded him. The work of Edvard Munch has been instrumental in the development of visual art and other artistic modes to the present day and beyond. Edvard Munch was a prolific yet perpetually troubled artist preoccupied with matters of human mortality such as chronic illness, sexual liberation, and religious aspiration.
He expressed these obsessions through works of intense color, semi-abstraction, and mysterious subject matter. Following the great triumph of French Impressionism, Munch took up the more graphic, symbolist sensibility of the influential Paul Gauguin, and in turn became one of the most controversial and eventually renowned artists among a new generation of continental Expressionist and Symbolist painters.
In his themes and subject matter, in the manner in which he gave voice to these, and in his handling of paint and the graphic media (especially woodcut and lithography), Munch was profoundly original and radical. He is one of the handfuls of artists who have shaped our understanding of the human experience and transformed the ways in which it might be visually expressed.
Perhaps more than any other artist, Munch has given pictorial shape to the inner life and psyche of modern man, and is thus a precursor in the development of modern psychology. His images of existential dread, anxiety, loneliness and the complex emotions of human sexuality have become icons of our era. Many of us know such images as The Scream, Anxiety, Melancholy, Jealousy, The Kiss, Madonna, Vampire, and The Dance of Life. In an unfolding and often only loosely connected series of paintings, drawings, and prints, Munch developed these great themes of Angst, Love, and Death during the 1890s.
In the fall of 1893, he produced two versions of The Scream, his now iconic image of personal and universal anguish. “You know my picture, The Scream?” he later wrote. “I was being stretched to the limit—nature was screaming in my blood—I was at a breaking point.”2 The same year, Munch painted The Storm. Set in a coastal village south of Kristiania (now Oslo), where the artist spent many of his summers, the canvas depicts a windswept landscape in which several women stand with their hands pressed against their faces in the same manner as the tormented figure in The Scream. Common to both compositions is a keen interest in the relationship between inward and outward realities.
Munch’s The Scream is an icon of modern art. As Leonardo da Vinci evoked a Renaissance ideal of serenity and self-control, Munch defined how we see our own age – wracked with anxiety and uncertainty. In The Scream, the figure’s silent shriek seems to reverberate through the undulating streaks of brilliant pigment that define the surrounding hills, bay, and sky.
SOURCE: Edward Munch.org; Museum Modern Art.org; Britannica