Edvard Munch was born in a very rustic farmhouse located at the village of Adalsbruk, in Norway, in 1863. Christian Much, his father, was a physician. The whole family would move to the capital Oslo, following an appointment for his father to become a medical officer.
Around his five years of age, Munch’s mother died a victim of tuberculosis. Within a decade, the disease took another toll at his family, now victimizing his sister Sophie, Munch’s favorite sister, who was one year older and somewhat competent young artist. Upon these tragic moments, Munch’s father would sometimes descend into periods of anger and depression. He was also a Christian fundamentalist, who began to experience quasi-spiritual visions, which he interpreted his family’s tragedy as a divine punishment.
Munch’s father would often read to him and his siblings the ghost stories of Edgar Allan Poe, which, allied with his previous dire losses, struck into young Edvard deep anxiety and a slightly morbid fascination with death.
Munch had quite fragile health, which was often further depleted due to the Scandinavian severe winters. His recurrent illnesses kept him out of school for extended periods. To fill his free time, Munch took up watercolor painting and drawing. Art soon grew up on him and became one of his main inspirations and aspiration.
At thirteen years old, Munch became familiar and fascinated by the landscape paintings exhibited by the Norwegian Art Association.
By the 1880s, Munch took up a bohemian lifestyle. He became familiar with the works of Hans Jaeger, who was an anarchist philosopher and head of the Kristiania-Boheme, which upheld an anti-bourgeois agenda. Munch became close friends with Jaeger, who encouraged him to produced works drawn from more personal experiences. This advice was essential, for it inevitably steered Munch to another path. On that note, he executed The Sick Child, a striking composition inspired by his deceased sister, Sophie. Upon its first exhibition, this painting was severely criticized by both critics and colleagues for unconventional pictures, such as the use of scratched surfaces.
Munch traveled to Paris in 1889, where he became more familiar and began to work after Impressionists such as Manet, and Post-Impressionists, like Vincent van Gogh, Gauguin, and Toulouse-Lautrec. Munch’s father passed away in the same year, another traumatic experience for the artist; this provoked a new-found interest in symbolism and spirituality. Night in St. Cloud, a composition both touching and dreary, depicting the silhouette of a solitary man by a window, this artwork was a profound memorial to his father, Christian Munch.
By the 1890s, Munch produced many of his most known and celebrated artworks, Love and Pain aka Vampire, as well as Madonna, Puberty, Ashes, and The Scream, a painting that would become more popular than himself, achieving the status of a worldly known cultural icon.
During the Nazi regime, Hitler deemed Munch’s artwork as degenerate and confiscated around 80 of his paintings from German museums. Seventy-one were returned to Norway by art collectors.
Edvard Munch died in Oslo on January 23, 1944, about a month past his 80th birthday.