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The world-famous painter Edvard Munch

An artist worth travelling for.

"Self-Portrait with Cigarette", Edvard Munch (1895) .
Photo: Nasjonalmuseet / Børre Høstland
"Self-Portrait with Cigarette", Edvard Munch (1895) .
Photo: Nasjonalmuseet / Børre Høstland

Edvard Munch earned his place in history with art influenced by his restless soul and the Norwegian nature. Meet the artist who painted the iconic masterpiece The Scream.

Illness led to a passion for art

Edvard Munch is renowned as one of Modernism's most important artists. For more than sixty years, he experimented with painting, graphic art and drawing, as well as sculpture, photo and film. This earned him a unique position in both Norwegian and international art history.

Munch's interest in drawing started early on. As a child, he was frequently ill and had to stay home from school for long periods. To make the time pass, he started drawing, which soon became his major passion. In the beginning, his drawings were mainly the things he could see around him: animals, people, views and buildings close to his home in the Grünerløkka neighbourhood of Kristiania, which is today called Oslo, Norway's capital.

“Self-Portrait. Between the Clock and the Bed”, Edvard Munch (1940–43)
“Self-Portrait. Between the Clock and the Bed”, Edvard Munch (1940–43).
Photo: MUNCH

Munch had a difficult childhood. When he was five years old, he lost his mother, Laura Munch, to tuberculosis. When he was fourteen, his older sister Sophie passed away from the same disease. Several of Munch's later works have tragic themes, including Death in the Sickroom and The Sick Child.

When Munch's mother died, his aunt Karen soon moved in to take care of the household. Unlike his father, Karen encouraged Munch's art, and in 1880 he started attending the Royal School of Art and Design in Kristiania. Here, Munch felt like his talent awakened.

When he was 17, Munch wrote in his diary:

“It is my decision now to become a painter.”

Edvard Munch

Munch rented a studio in Kristiania together with six friends, where he met his first great mentor, the renowned artist Christian Krohg, who encouraged Munch to find his own path.

Munch's female influences

In 1886, Munch exhibited the first painted version of The Sick Child at the Annual Autumn Exhibition in Kristiania. He was 23 years old at the time. His rough painting method was both criticised and praised. Munch later said that "I broke new ground with The Sick Child – it was a breakthrough in my art".

In total, there are six different versions of the motif, painted over several decades. The composition is the same in all the paintings, but his latest versions are more colourful.

Several of Munch's works were inspired by the women in his life. The artist had a turbulent love life, and his relationships typically involved brief, spontaneous first-time meetings followed by a lifelong obsession. This is reflected in works like Dance of Life, painted in 1899-1900 and Head by Head from 1905, among others.

Iconic motifs

In 1889, Munch had his first solo exhibition in a small, rented space in Kristiania. This helped him secure a scholarship for a one-year stay in Paris.

Later, in 1892, he was invited to exhibit his art at the Association of Berlin Artists. His art shook both the German public and the members of the Association. Some believed Munch's paintings were an insult to art, the exhibition closed after only one week.

During this period, between 1892 and 1896, Munch created some of his most famous motifs, including The Scream (pastel version), Vampire, Puberty and Madonna.

Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch was a world-famous painter and printmaker from Norway. Born in Løten in 1863, Munch was active for more than 60 years and was one of Modernism’s most important artists.

His best-known work is The Scream, painted in 1893, which is one of the most iconic paintings in modern art. Other famous pieces include The Girls on the Bridge and Madonna.

Munch died at his home in Oslo in 1944, shortly after his 80th birthday.

Artwork by Edvard Munch.
Photo: Edvard Munch: The Sick Child I (1896) / Munchmuseet Edvard Munch: The Scream (1910) / Munchmuseet Edvard Munch: Puberty (1894) / Munchmuseet Edvard Munch: Self-Portrait (1895) / Munchmuseet Edvard Munch: The Dance of Life (1925) / Munchmuseet

It still screams

It’s been more than 125 years since Edvard Munch painted The Scream; however, the pale human figure with its skull-shaped head and ovoid mouth still captivates people all over the world. The painting is an icon of modern art. It’s been named the second most famous picture in art history (after the Mona Lisa). It even has its own emoji 😱!

Though The Scream might be better known than the artist himself, Munch is one of the most famous Norwegians of all time. He was active as an artist for more than 60 years, and many of his works were influenced by existential themes such as anxiety, jealousy, and melancholy, making his art as relevant today as it was 125 years ago.

If you want to deep dive more into the artist's fascinating life and creations, you should definitely catch the new film Munch on Viaplay, released in January 2023. You can watch the trailer below:

Experience Munch

Munch didn’t only turn to his own tormented inner life for motifs. He was also inspired by the stunning scenery that surrounded him, and the places where he lived and worked can also be seen in his paintings.

Today, you can stroll around and explore the places that inspired his creativity. Learn more about where to go:

Munch in Norway

See where you can experience Munch's life and art.

Explore Munch’s art
The world's number one destination for experiencing Edvard Munch's life and art Read more
MUNCH
Five star hotel in the city centre of Oslo, close to the National Theatre, Aker Brygge and the Royal Palace. Spend your days in Oslo from one of… Read more
Hotel Continental
Gallery Würth - art exhibition close to Würths main office in Norway! Read more
Galleri Würth
The hotel with the unique art collection! Read more
Hotell Refsnes Gods
Berg-Kragerø Museum promotes art, history, holiday life, coastal culture and export of natural ice in Kragerø - Make sure you explore our Edvard Munch… Read more
Berg - Kragerø Museum
Experience masterpieces from Norwegian art history by Edvard Munch, Harriet Backer, Nikolai Astrup and J. C. Dahl. Four buildings, one entrance… Read more
KODE – Art Museums and Composer Homes
Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum is an art museum that makes space for ideas. Read more
Northern Norway art museum
Walk in Munch’s footsteps
Edvard Munch was born in Løten Read more
The Munch Center
Edvard Munch is Norway's best-known artist and a world-class painter. He was both recognised and controversial in his lifetime, and many people viewed… Read more
MUNCH WALK in Vågå
Did you know that some of E. Munch's most famous works are painted in Kragerø? Take a walk in Munch's footsteps through the streets of Kragerø and… Read more
In the footsteps of Edvard Munch
Fred Olsen Lines has exhibited 37 figureheads made by famous Norwegian artists, used on the shipping company's ships in the period 1938 - 1976. Read more
Hvitsten - Fred. Olsen and Edvard Munch
It was in 1889 that Edvard Munch (1863-1944) spent the first of many summers in Åsgårdstrand. In 1898 he bought a house built at the end of the 18th… Read more
Edvard Munch´s house in Åsgårdstrand
In 1916, Edvard Munch bought the estate Ekely outside Oslo. He lived and worked at Ekely for 28 years. Read more
Edvard Munch's studio at Ekely
Visit the beautiful and historic island in the river between the Old Town and Kråkerøy. Isegran is the perfect place for food, culture, and leisure… Read more
Isegran
An Oslo institution dating back to 1857. Read more
Engebret Café
Cemetery dating back to 1808, known primarily for Æreslunden , Norway's main honorary burial ground. Æreslunden was established… Read more
Memorial cemetery: Æreslunden
Ramme – a new cultural destination south of Oslo Read more
The culture destination Ramme
Kragerø is referred to as "The gem among coastal cities" of Edvard Munch, Norway's most famous artist of all time. Read more
The Art City Kragerø
Several nice vantage points are found within cycling distance from the centre of Oslo. The Valhall curve has one of the best views in the city. It is… Read more
Bicycle route: The Vantage Point Ekeberg
Deluxe full-service hotel centrally located on Oslo's famous main street Karl Johans gate, surrounded by some of the city's best shopping… Read more
Grand Hotel
Walking tours in Oslo with autorised tour guides who are specialists on everything from architecture to industrial history. Combined they speak more… Read more
Oslo Guidebureau: Guided walks in Oslo
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    Show Details
    Statens Kartverk, Geovekst og kommuner - Geodata AS

    Dive into the world's largest Munch collection.

    "The Mother" by Tracey Emin beside MUNCH in Oslo. .
    Photo:
    "The Mother" by Tracey Emin beside MUNCH in Oslo. .
    Photo:

    Meet the women who influenced
    one of the world’s most famous artists.

    Munch exhibition .
    Photo: Visit Norway
    Munch exhibition .
    Photo: Visit Norway

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    From Norway’s history and traditions to art and artifacts – choose from a great selection of museums and galleries.

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