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My Favorite Artists and Their Art: Edvard Munch

  • Sep 12, 2010
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Edvard Munch has long been one of my favorite artists in Modern Art. His symbolist and proto-expressionist works have a deeply personal connection with me. Somehow, they reach into my psyche, wrenching my emotions and thoughts from within and allow them to materialize in paint. Munch's art worked on two psychological levels at once, both conjuring up primitive emotions from our personal past while at the same time juxtaposing it with his knowledge of archetypal characters from our collective past. I love the way his artwork, much like Franz Kafka's writings, tap into those deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy, guilt, regret, lust, and utter despair.

Here is a list dedicated to Edvard Munch and his art.
The Scream
Easily my favorite painting ever!!! Edvard Munch's The Scream has an almost uncanny ability to resonate with everyone (unless they dislike Expressionism) on a very deep and personal level. There's something special about the painting that allows people to connect with the artist's intense feelings of isolation and anguish. Never has anyone been able to project such vulnerability and sadness about not being able to blend in with one's environment or social community. Truly one of the most iconic paintings in Modern Art.
Edvard Munch's deeply insightful painting is a meditation on the insecurities, the vulnerability, and the feeling of loneliness that is inherent in the process of growing up. Never has an artist been able to so accurately and boldly depict the angst and awkwardness of early adolescence.
Dark, disturbing, and somehow titillating, this piece from Edvard Munch is instantly reminiscent of Lucy's attack on her husband Arthur in the novel Dracula. Not my favorite Munch painting, but one of his most memorable.
For much of Edvard Munch's adult life, he struggled with his own sexuality and his own social anxieties. As such, many of his works of art possess a strange dualistic quality being able to express both extreme vulnerability and discomfort but also exposing a deeply sensual side of himself. Ironically, one of his most erotically charged and passionate pieces is entitled Madonna, named of course after the Virgin Mother.
The Three Stages of Woman
Munch's unusual symbolic work that shows three different periods in a woman's life. There's been some debate among artistic scholars as to exactly what three stages of womanhood they are. The first two are self-explanatory, since they are clearly childhood, womanhood (note the sense of sexual freedom that the intermediate woman appears to be experiencing), but the third phase is a little less clear... Some say that it is widowhood, which explains the black garbs, yet not the other figure on the far left. However, others say that it represents death and the other figure is that of a mourner.
The Sick Child (lithograph)
Throughout Munch's life, he was again and again visited by the shadow of death. In this haunting lithograph, Munch was inspired by his own sister's death and the resulting work (as well as the painting he did with the same name) is masterful.
Self-portrait with a Skeleton Arm
This particular self-portait is simultaneously gloomy and humorous. I've always enjoyed those self-portraits which allow themselves to be highly stylistic in order to express the feelings of the artist better and this is a great example of that type.
Self-portrait with a Cigarette
Munch created many portraits of himself, some of which are more creative than others, but this one has a mystique to it that I love.
Evening on Karl Johan Street
Munch suffered from social anxiety and insecurity, so often when he painted or drew, his pictures reflected his feelings of discomfort with the outside world. Here he has created an image of a small crowd making their way down the street, but he has imbued it with his own melancholy.
The Sun
This painting is the central piece of Munch's mural at Oslo University and it remains a unique work because while most of Munch's paintings are solemn or melancholy, this one is rather hopeful.
Lady from the Sea
Edvard Munch's underrated painting of a mermaid. Beautiful colors. Munch would often feature very abstract characters in the background and I find the hidden figure in this painting to be intriguing.
Death in the Sick Room
This is a fascinating work to me, in part because it has subtle echoes of Van Gogh who was a great inspiration to Munch, and I find the colors and composition unique among Munch's work.

What did you think of this list?

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September 26, 2010
Not a bad list at all. I really do like # 12 and 3.
September 26, 2010
Rough childhood?
September 26, 2010
yup. why do you think I am so twisted and smart?
September 26, 2010
I figured it was due to the mass consumption of sake.
September 26, 2010
well....that too.
September 26, 2010
Ha-ha. =)
September 18, 2010
I enjoy his work but he's not on my real top 10 fave list, count. Good job on the list.
September 18, 2010
Really? I thought you were a big fan of the Expressionist movement. Perhaps my next list will be more to your liking. I plan on focusing on one of the Pre-Raphaelites.
September 15, 2010
Nice list of Munch's paintings.
September 15, 2010
Thanks. Was it not fun to read?
September 15, 2010
Yes it was. I thought I had clicked it all. You might want to ask Debbie about it. Looks like you are not getting the props. I tried again this time.
September 15, 2010
Yeah, that's been happening a lot lately. I'm not sure why.
September 15, 2010
Yeah, it happened to one of my reviews too. I mentioned it to Debbie. Not sure if it was fixed or not.
September 18, 2010
It doesn't appear to be on my list. Any luck on your review?
September 18, 2010
I'm not sure. I haven't checked in with her about it again.
September 21, 2010
It seems to have been fixed here, but it doesn't reinstate those ratings that didn't go through initially.
September 28, 2010
Hm...Strange. Seems like it should fix it automatically...
September 28, 2010
Sadly nope.
September 28, 2010
I just tried again on the one the category that was missing for me. Hopefully it sticks this time.
September 28, 2010
Yep, it went through that time. The bug must be fixed. : )
September 28, 2010
September 28, 2010
Those glitches can be quite temperamental sometimes.
September 28, 2010
September 14, 2010
Great post! I'll be interested in your other fave artists lists!
September 14, 2010
Thanks. I haven't decided who I will follow up with... I'm trying to decide between one of the Pre-Raphaelites and one of the Surrealists.
September 13, 2010
I'm not familiar with Munch at all except for the scream, but that is so neat that he has such a diverse body of work! Truly talented. Thanks for sharing, Sean!
September 13, 2010
No, thank you. I love Munch. I would have included even more of his works, but it's rather difficult to find decent pictures on the net. I'll have to go through some of my old art books and see if I can find any others.
September 25, 2010
I hate "The Scream". I suppose that is horribly non-U. I know the original was stolen some time ago. Was it recovered?
September 25, 2010
Yes, the 1893 original was stolen from the National Gallery of Norway in 1994, but it was recovered a few months later on. The 1910 version was stolen from the Munch Museum, along with "Madonna", and they were both recovered two years later.
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