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At one of Oslo’s most beautiful view points, 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 media relations at MUNCH, the new museum in Oslo dedicated to the life and work of Edvard Munch.
Three different versions of The Scream are exhibited in MUNCH's rotunda, each for one hour at a time as part of the permanent exhibition, Edvard Munch Infinite. 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, in the late autumn of 1893 – far removed from the place where the painter actually conceived the iconic image, a spot in Ekebergsparken Sculpture Park that can be visited anytime. To get to Ekebergskrenten you can follow one of the trails from the Old Town in the eastern side of Oslo.
Ekeberg is a popular destination due to its modernist restaurant and sculpture park – and the astonishing view. From the trail you can see Oslo with its award-winning architectural masterpiece, the Oslo Opera House, the MUNCH museum, the National Museum, and, in the distance, the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, one of the nation's leading international contemporary art museums.
Grünerløkka in Oslo is one of the city’s most popular neighbourhoods for artists and artisans today. It was also here, at Olaf Ryes plass, embarked on his long journey from struggling artist to international renown.
Today, most people around the world know about him. Everyone 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. 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 Tidemand and Gude, and other major Norwegian artists,” says Hans Richard Elgheim, a leading Munch expert.
Hans Richard explains that Munch was different. “He was instead focused on 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,” says Hans Richard.
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.”
There are many myths about Munch as a 'solitary genius'. His life was marked by turmoil, anxiety and never-ending questions. Unlike his father, he did not find solace in faith. What helped him was to paint, and what he painted was a reflection of his own mind.
“There must be an end to painting women knitting and men reading. I'll paint people who breathe and feel, who love and suffer,” he said.
From 1916 until his death in 1944, he lived at Ekely, a Swiss villa in Skøyen in Oslo. He was very productive almost to the end of his life. During the 28 years he lived at Ekely he had several recurring motifs: the unusual forest surrounding the villa, rural sights, and portraits of women. There was an old nursery at the site when Munch bought the property, located between Skøyen’s industrial areas and the farmlands in Vestre Aker. Just a couple of kilometres to the east, his contemporary Gustav Vigeland was engaged in making the world-famous Vigeland installation in Frogner Park during the same period.
At Ekely, Munch’s studio is still operative, and is used by aspiring young Norwegian and foreign artists who are ready to take up Munch’s legacy – a man who is still a role model for many. On some occasions, the entire property is opened up for visitors, so be sure to check the opening hours when you’re in town.
It is not without reason that Munch has been called 'an eternally contemporary artist'. His work seems to be perennially relevant and continues to trigger strong reactions.
Discover the places that inspired the artist with a walk in Munch's footsteps.
In 2021, the 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.
See where to experience Munch's life and art.
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