Happy birthday, Edvard Munch

Today is the 149th birthday of Norwegian painter and printmaker, Edvard Munch.

Self Portrait (in distress) 1919

Munch was born 12 December in the village of Ådalsbruk in Løten, in 1863. His father was a doctor named Christian Munch and his mother was Laura Catherine Bjølstad. He was often ill as a child and reportedly drew to occupy his considerable time spent in bed.

In 1881, Munch enrolled at Den kongelige tegneskole. Along with fellow students, he had his first public exhibition in 1883. Some of his early work was in the Naturalism and Impressionism traditions. After falling in with nihilist/philosopher/writer/anarchist Hans Jæger, and his circle, Kristianiabohêmen, Munch began attempting to paint from his soul.

Det Syke Barn 1885

Munch’s first “soul painting,” Det Syke Barn (The Sick Child) depicted his sister Johanne Sophie on her deathbed — she died from TB when just fifteen.

The Scream (1893) The Scream (1910) The Scream parody The Scream parody

(l-r) Munch’s original Munch’s last …and parodies

Munch’s piece(s) titled Der Schrei der Natur (usually known as The Scream in English) is his most recognized work and has been referenced, parodied and copied countless times. The first version, done with pastels, was completed in 1893. He created three more versions, one more pastel and two paintings.

Edvard Munch's grave

Munch passed away on 23 January, 1944 at the age of eighty years. He is quoted as having said, “Fra min råtnende kropp skal blomster vokse, og jeg er i dem, og dét er evighet” which Google translates as “From my rotting body flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity.”

In college I had the opportunity to see Peter Watkins‘s 210 minute long biographical film, Evard Munch. In addition to my date and I, there was only one other film attendee in the audience. I was utterly enthralled but by the time the film ended, my girlfriend had fallen asleep and the other film-goer had long since taken off. If you’d like to purchase a copy, it is available on DVD.

*****

Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities — or salaried work. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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