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Edvard Munch (1863–1944), Norway’s greatest artist, created one of modern art’s most recognised images. For its multitude of admirers, his 1893 painting The Scream encapsulates all the angst of the modern age. This tour provides an exhilarating and unrepeatable opportunity to explore the artist’s work and to understand his development as an artist and a man.
Munch himself was a conflicted character. After a sickly childhood, marked by the death of his mother and beloved sister, he was raised by an aunt and his doctor father, a difficult, melancholic figure. At the age of seventeen he began training at the Oslo School of Design.
Though his early work was influenced by Impressionism, by the time he was in his twenties he had begun to develop an art intended to express profound emotion. With its violent exaggeration of line and colour, his ‘soul painting’ (generally regarded as the pre-cursor to Expressionism) both scandalised and revolutionised.
The Oslo of Munch’s childhood was a small, provincial town and in the 1880s Munch left to paint in Paris, where he was inspired by the work of Van Gogh and Gauguin, and then in Berlin, where his Bohemian lifestyle caused as much outrage as his art. By 1902, however, he had begun to receive widespread critical recognition.
Munch’s Frieze of Life, begun in the late 1880s, is his (never completed) masterwork. This monumental series took as its themes the most fundamental human experiences – love, death, jealousy, separation – themes Munch was to explore repeatedly through his paintings, pastels, prints and sketches. Reworked and revised over a thirty-year period, the Frieze of Life includes many of his most celebrated works.
After a nervous breakdown in 1909 Munch returned to Oslo, where he lived, in solitude, at his estate Ekely at Skøyen. On his death in 1944, he bequeathed over 1,000 paintings, 4,500 drawings and 18,000 prints to the city of Oslo, now housed in the Munch Museum.
Our tour focuses on two major retrospectives marking the 150th anniversary of Munch’s birth, but also offers the opportunity to explore Oslo, now an exciting capital, and various significant locations in Munch’s life, including his boyhood homes and the sites of many of his paintings.