The life of Edvard Munch (1863-1919), as conveyed through films at the Munch Museum in a suburb of Oslo, Norway, presents a biography in which one can feel the artist’s angst. Several times in his life, one can imagine him being unduly burdened by circumstances, so much so that any normal person would want to scream. He was one of five children, and his father was doctor. His prospects were promising and art became his life’s direction, especially after enrolling in the Royal School of Art and Design at age 18, followed by art scholarships. By that time, though, events already had conspired to create a troubled young man.
Tuberculosis took the life of his mother when he was only five, and his sister passed away 13 years later from the same disease when she was only 15. This was a time when family members died in the home. The film conveyed the pall that must have hung over the home for many days on end. To top it off, another of his sisters spent most of her life in an institution for mental illness and his only brother died of pneumonia at age 30. Munch’s father died when he was 26.
He had some gay times as a young man, hanging out with fellow artists in Paris and various European hotspots. He found his way to success in Germany, but only after publicized rejection of his art at other public venues. Whereas some artists get a break, Munch encountered further personal setbacks. A relationship twice led him to sign marriage agreements only to lose the papers the first time, and unable to follow through a second time. Munch was married to his art; he needed no more commitment than that. The scorned woman then told lies among their common friends in Paris, claiming he had used her for her money, and he retreated rather than refuting the claims.
Another love interest during a different timeframe was a married woman, accompanied by all the anguish that had to cause. He never married.
Munch, known especially in the Expressionism era of art, also had a bout with alcoholism and checked himself into a treatment center.
The Munch Museum in Toyen, a suburb of Oslo within walking distance of the Oslo Central Train Station through an ethnically diverse neighborhood, presents a complete picture of Munch through his art, including the colorful palette that he used in the happy conveyance of flowers or a landscape. More complicated themes and feelings are expressed in his art as well, such as jealousy, despair, melancholy and anxiety, also names of some of his paintings dating to the 1890s.
The museum’s current exhibit through January 2015 emphasizes Munch and Nature, based upon his quote “… a vast endless scream through nature.” A couple more quotes from Munch are: “For as long as I can remember, I have suffered from a deep feeling of anxiety which I have tried to express in my art” and “Illness, insanity, and death were the black angels that kept watch over my cradle and accompanied me all my life.”
According to the website, http://www.biography.com/people/edvard-munch-9418033, “A testament to his importance, “The Scream” sold for more than $119 million in 2012—setting a new record.”
Munch deeded his estate to the City of Oslo.
Except between June through August, the museum is closed on Mondays. See www.munch.museum.no for more information (and click on the English button). Entry is free for children and up to age 18. Also, Edvard Munch’s studio at Ekely is open to the public during summer weekend afternoons, and there is no admission fee. Read more here: http://munchs-ekely.no/english/.