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Edvard Munch (12 December 1863 – 23 January 1944) was a Norwegian painter. His childhood was overshadowed by illness, bereavement and the dread of inheriting a mental condition that ran in the family.

Edvard Munch was a prolific yet perpetually troubled artist preoccupied with matters of human mortality such as chronic illness, sexual liberation, and religious aspiration. He expressed these obsessions through works of intense color, semi-abstraction, and mysterious subject matter.

Following the great triumph of French Impressionism, Munch took up the more graphic, symbolist sensibility of the influential Paul Gauguin, and in turn became one of the most controversial and eventually renowned artists among a new generation of continental Expressionist and Symbolist painters.

niood lists the 10 most famous artworks of Edvard Munch:

1. The Scream, 1893

The agonized face in the painting has become one of the most iconic images of art, seen as symbolizing the anxiety of the human condition.

Munch recalled that he had been out for a walk at sunset when suddenly the setting sun’s light turned the clouds “a blood red”. He sensed an “infinite scream passing through nature”. Scholars have located the spot to a fjord overlooking Oslo and have suggested other explanations for the unnaturally orange sky, ranging from the effects of a volcanic eruption to a psychological reaction by Munch to his sister’s commitment at a nearby lunatic asylum.

Figure on cliffside walkway holding head with hands
By Edvard Munch – National Gallery of Norway 8 January 2019 (upload date) by Coldcreation, Public Domain

2. Vampire (or Love and Pain), 1893

The painting depicts a man and woman embracing, with the woman appearing to be either kissing or biting the man on his neck.

Munch maintained it was nothing more than a woman kissing a man on the neck. The Nazis declared it morally ‘degenerate.’ In the painting, we see a man in anguish, arms around his love, while she tries to comfort him. Perhaps she is laying her face on his shoulder even. Some thought it was about his visits to prostitutes, yet others saw it as some sort of macabre fantasy about the death of his favorite sister. Evidently Munch remained ambiguous about the deeper meaning behind it.

By Edvard Munch – Google Art Project: pic, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37643012

3. Angst, 1894

“Wood is something that is alive,” Munch stated, and he saw the material as a source of primal energies to be released through carving. He depicted this scene in both an oil painting and a lithograph before finally making this woodcut.

Many art critics feel that Anxiety is closely related to Munch’s more famous piece, The Scream (1893). The faces show despair and the dark colors show a depressed state. Many critics also believe it’s meant to show the emotions of heartbreak and sorrow.

Edvard Munch - Anxiety - Google Art Project.jpg
By Edvard Munch – Google Art Project: pic, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37623446

4. Puberty, 1894

A naked young girl with loose hair is sitting on the edge of a bed, hiding her crotch with her arms. She stares at us with wide-open eyes. The composition is simple, with the frontally depicted body vertical in contrast to the horizontal lines of the bed. The light enters from the left, and behind her a dark, ominous shadow is visible. The motif is often regarded as a symbol of anxiety and fear, a young girl’s awakening sexuality and the changes a young person experiences physically and psychologically on the path towards adulthood.

Puberty was a spark towards the progress of his personal emotional journey in how he portrayed his feelings in his artwork.

Puberty (1894-95) by Edvard Munch.jpg
By Edvard Munch – http://samling.nasjonalmuseet.no/no/object/NG.M.00807 Nasjonalmuseet / Lathion, Jacques, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37666380

5. Madonna, 1895–1902

Madonna is the usual title given to several versions of a composition by the Norwegian expressionist painter Edvard Munch showing a bare-breasted half-length female figure created between 1892 and 1895 using oil paint on canvas.

Although it is a highly unusual representation, this painting might be of the Virgin Mary. Whether the painting is specifically intended as a representation of Mary is disputed. Munch used more than one title, including both Loving Woman and Madonna. Munch is not famous for religious artwork and was not known as a Christian. The affinity to Mary might as well be intended nevertheless, as an emphasis on the beauty and perfection of his friend Dagny Juel-Przybyszewska, the model for the work, and an expression of his worship of her as an ideal of womanhood.

By Edvard Munch – http://samling.nasjonalmuseet.no/no/object/NG.M.00841 Nasjonalmuseet / Høstland, Børre, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37616126

6. The Kiss, 1897

Munch created many works in a thematic vein, including The Kiss, and exhibited them along side each other in what he called The Freize of Life. The themes in the series ranged from love and death, sex, anxiety, infidelity, jealousy and the stages of life, and included the famous painting The Scream.

Munch never married. The dark ambiance of The Kiss is representative of Munch’s ambivalence regarding romance. It’s virtually impossible to separate the two figures, particularly where their faces meet and become one in the painting.

A depiction of two people kissing
By Edvard Munch – Google Art Project: pic, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37658810

7. The Lonely Ones, 1899

Two figures with their backs to the viewer – a woman and a man – dominate the composition. The distance between them, the contrast between his dark and her light figure and the subtle twist in the man’s torso towards the woman express both attraction and distance. The shore on which they stand and the water they are facing emphasise the mood of yearning and loneliness both thematically and visually.

File:Edvard Munch - Two Human Beings (The Lonely Ones) (1905).jpg

8. The Girls On The Bridge, 1899

Three girls stand on a bridge with their backs to the viewer. They are leaning against a railing, looking down into the water. The figures, landscape and building in the background are painted in a simplified manner, giving the painting a decorative effect. The girls’ brightly coloured dresses form a contrast with the pale pink, light blue and muted dark green of the landscape.

The Girls on the Bridge, 1901 - Edvard Munch

9. Jealousy, 1933–35

Munch returned to this image throughout his whole life – he completed no less than 11 painted versions of Jealousy. The first painting was executed in 1895, and the last was made during the 1930s.

We see two men and a woman, and understand straight away that this is all about jealousy. The woman is between the two men, one of whom looks at us with staring eyes whilst the other stands with eyes downcast.

Jealousy, 1895 - Edvard Munch

10. The Sick Child, 1925

The Sick Child draws upon Munch’s memory of his sister Sophie’s death from tuberculosis at the age of fifteen. The model was a young girl who Munch had observed sitting distraught when he accompanied his father, a doctor, to treat her brother’s broken leg. Munch worked on the painting for a year, developing the rapid brushwork and vivid colour that suggest the painful evocation of a traumatic memory. ‘It was a breakthrough in my art’, he later wrote. ‘Most of what I have done since had its birth in this picture’. He made several versions over a period of forty years. This was the fourth version.

By Edvard Munch – http://samling.nasjonalmuseet.no/no/object/NG.M.00839 Nasjonalmuseet / Høstland, Børre, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37692571