Inspired by my recent trip to Norway (pictures to follow), I decided to compile a short list of my favourite works by Norway’s most famous artist.

Painter and printmaker Edvard Munch was born in Adalsbruk in 1863. He was a symbolic artist, often using psychological profiles, and became an early expressionist.

Munch frequently portrayed images of torment and insanity, most obvious in his most famous painting The Scream (1893). He had a troubled childhood and mental illness ran in the family.

Many of my favourite Munch paintings display a sense of isolation, of foreboding, tension hanging in the air above the figures, an almost palpable anxiety.

The Storm, 1893

The Storm, 1893


The Storm

I saw this painting in person at MoMA in New York and it had such a haunted quality. Its setting is the seaside village of Asgardstrand, where Munch spent his childhood summers. The woman in white is evidently isolated from the rest of the villagers, even in a harsh situation, creating a sense of nadir.

 

Melancholy, 1894

Melancholy, 1894


Melancholy

Melancholy is certainly how I would describe this painting. Sadness etched on the man’s face as he contemplates, pensive and forlorn. I feel like I can relate to this character and I am definitely drawn to the sea when I am feeling this way. The idea of life and death is of course symbolised by the ocean and these are recurrent themes in Munch’s work. Similar in theme and style to Separation below, this work is concerned with love and loss.

 

The Kiss, 1897

The Kiss, 1897


The Kiss

This painting is clearly different from the others detailed in that the figures are locked in an embrace, very much together, in fact almost melding into one. This represents the changing perceptions of women during the era, becoming more boldly sexual and dominant. This is perhaps a much softer version of his work Vampire.

 

Separation 1900

Separation 1900


Separation

This painting brings out such emotion in me. The man clutching his heart, alone but never alone, the woman who holds the key forever with him yet always apart.

 

White Night, 1901

White Night, 1901


White Night

I like this painting for its depiction of the Norwegian landscape – especially after my recent visit – with the spruce trees framing the fjord beyond. Whilst there are no figures in the painting, the single house continues the isolated theme of his work. For me, this has a definite van Gogh influence, and the use of colour is wonderful.

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