Edvard Munch Actually Cheered Up After a While

the scream tank top

The Scream, by Edvard Munch

People like to blame the cold and dark of Edvard Munch's native Norway for the misery of his paintings, but mainly he came from a messed-up family background.

Here’s how he describes his inspiration for The Scream:

I was walking down the road with two friends when the sun set; suddenly, the sky turned as red as blood. I stopped and leaned against the fence, feeling unspeakably tired. Tongues of fire and blood stretched over the bluish black fjord. My friends went on walking, while I lagged behind, shivering with fear. Then I heard the enormous, infinite scream of nature… For several years I was almost mad… I was stretched to the limit—nature was screaming in my blood… After that I gave up hope ever of being able to love again.

For most of his life, he was pretty crazy, a lot of it on purpose, and his paintings were full of angst, even — especially? — his love-related works. Regarding The Kiss, interpretations of the merged faces have ranged from plain old unity of the lovers to a loss of individuality akin to death. One critic said the faces look like a gigantic deaf ear; another said the smaller person looks like a carp getting ready to eat the bigger person.

the kiss edvard munch pillow

For a long time, Munch didn’t sell many paintings, mainly because he thought of them as “his children” and preferred to make money by charging admission to see them (they were considered controversial), rather than by selling them.

In 1908, after Munch’s misery reached a breaking point, exacerbated by drinking and fighting — including an encounter with a gun that injured two of his fingers — he underwent eight months of rehab, which remarkably helped him so much that his paintings became cheerier, and sold better. He followed his doctor’s advice to hang out only with his good friends, and to never drink in public, and he was able thereafter to make a good living, buy property, and provide well for his family.

See more items on Anomaly Panoply that use The Scream and other artworks by Edvard Munch.

To learn more about the artist’s life, go to any of the items in the link above, and scroll down to the “Edvard Munch” section.


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