From one of Oslo’s most beautiful lookouts, Edvard Munch found inspiration for one of the world's most famous paintings – The Scream.
"Contrary to popular belief it’s nature and not the figure in the painting that is screaming, according to Munch himself who wrote "...a great and infinite scream through nature'", says Maren Lindeberg, head of press at MUNCH, the new museum dedicated to the life and works of Edvard Munch.
"The Scream is more relevant now than ever. In connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, The Scream has come to reflect our collective anxiety and fear of the global virus. Munch’s figure is also often features on protest signs, particularly at climate change protests", Lindeberg continues.
The four versions of The Scream will be displayed in a rotunda, each for one hour at a time as part of the permanent exhibition, Edvard Munch Eternal. This is done in order to best protect the fragile paintings.
Munch painted one of the world's most famous artworks, The Scream, in Nice, late in the autumn of 1893 – far removed from the place where the painter actually conceived the iconic image. This place can be visited anytime. To get to Ekebergskrenten you can follow one of the many overgrown, twisting and steep paths from the Old Town east in Oslo.
Ekeberg is a popular destination, for its modernist restaurant, the new sculpture park – and the astonishing view. Beneath us as we traverse the path, the capital reveals itself. We see the award-winning architectural masterpiece, the Oslo Opera House; the new MUNCH museum, and, in the distance – the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, one of the nation's leading exhibitors of contemporary art from home and abroad.
One can see all the way to Grünerløkka, one of the city’s most popular neighbourhoods for artists and artisans today. It was also here – at Olaf Ryes plass – that Edvard Munch as a poor painter started on his long road to the starry skies.
Today, most people around the world know about him. Everybody has a relationship to the expressive painter with his very distinctive style. Few people, however, know that Munch was Norwegian.
“There may be several reasons for this,” says Hans Richard Elgheim, a leading Munch expert. “Apart from the fact that he lived in Germany at the time of his breakthrough, his art is also un-Norwegian in the sense that nationality is often linked to themes. We see no immediate national romantic presence in his pictures, like we do, for example, in the pictures of Tiedemann and Gude, and other major Norwegian artists”. Munch, he explains, was different. “He rather pinpointed and cared for existential questions about life, love, death and anxiety. He was an expressionist, and keen to get his feelings straight out onto the canvas. He was not one to hide behind conventions or a particular painting technique. He was a pioneer, and his art is universal.”
Amid the painter’s thousands of pages of memoirs, a few sentences review the walk that would change the history of art.
“I was walking along the road with two friends – then the sun went down – the sky was all of a sudden crimson red – I stopped, leaning into the fence of death – over the blue and black fjord and the city of blood and tongues of fire – my friends were walking ahead and I was left shaking with anxiety – and I felt that it was a large infinite scream roaring through nature.”
In 2021, the new MUNCH museum opened in an iconic and ultra modern building right beside a brand new city beach. The 13-story tall building contains galleries and restaurants, and hosts workshops and contemporary art exhibitions, in addition to iconic pieces by the world-famous painter.
MUNCH is home to more than half of the artist’s paintings and is one of the most comprehensive single-artist museums in the world.