Munch (1863, Norway) started painting when he was seventeen. A year later he started his studies at the School of Arts and Crafts in Christiania, now Oslo.
Munch mainly focused on portraying human emotions, fears and insecurities. The shrill colors and the expressive lines that he used, as well as the choice of his subjects greatly influenced the development of expressionism. In his works Munch reconciled contradictions such as life and death, the vertical and the horizontal line and movement and stillness.
The situation in the family in which he grew up and the general condition in the Norwegian capital were the origins of Munch’s suffering. Confrontations with illness and death awakened a passion for art in him. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was five years old. Later, his fifteen-year-old sister Sophie also died of TB, which he incorporated in the painting The sick child from 1885-1886.
The extensive oeuvre that emerged in this second phase of his artist life generally lacks the intensity of his earlier work. The portrayal of personal despair gave way to more optimistic and general subjects: landscapes, workers and children. Typical of his changed attitude are the large murals in front of the auditorium of the University of Oslo. In 1916 he bought a house in Ekely, near Oslo, where he would live the rest of his life.
In 1937 Munch’s paintings were labeled ‘entartete Kunst’ by the National Socialists; 82 of his works were therefore confiscated in Germany. Edvard Munch died in early 1944 at the age of eighty.
1. Selfportrait in Hell: His depressed mind and the torment that life shaped for him is clearly heared. Motifs from the parts to come are clearly presented. But in a striking way, which makes this overture an impressive opening
2. The sick Child: The loss of his sister. The mourning and despair are transfered into sounds here. However, the sad atmosphere is alternated with memories of a better time in which children’s play is presented in the form of a music box motif. The whip makes the clapping of skipping rope on the ground audible.
3. Vampire: The beauty, but also the threat of the vampire transformed into a dynamic part with momentous changes in time, in a passage that is much like a chase.
4. Madonna: The painting of Munch’s Madonna was very controversial. He portrays the Virgin Mary in a typical iconic pose. Nakedness adds an (for many inappropriate) erotic connotations. This also happens in music. The work opens with an Ave-Maria-like melody / accompaniment. The atonal chords create an alienation. The addition of a rumba-like middle part (wouldn’t have been out of place in a nightclub) and the combination of these elements at the end, complete the picture.
5. The Scream: There is a great misunderstanding about “The Scream”. Many think that the person in the foreground is screaming, but it is nature that ‘screams’. That is why he keeps his ears closed. It is therefore that environment that can be heard in the final part of this work. As in the opening movement, the melody from Madonna is used again here.