Sunday, June 6, 2010

Edvard Munch

An artist I've realised I have a great affinity with is the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. It's a shame how some artists seem to be bracketed by just one or two works in their career as Munch was in his. The Scream is no doubt a breakthrough work, both in style and in sentiment. The style is fluid, the pastels seem to swell around the work like a raging tide. The motivation of the work stems from a feeling of deep torment, a trauma resulting from a horrifying confrontation with an imperfect world, a modernising world with an anxious future. Below is an exerpt Munch wrote about the work himself.

I was walking down the road with two friends when the sun set; suddenly, the sky turned as red as blood. I stopped and leaned against the fence, feeling unspeakably tired. Tongues of fire and blood stretched over the bluish black fjord. My friends went on walking, while I lagged behind, shivering with fear. Then I heard the enormous, infinite scream of nature.

Besides this magnificant work however, Munch was an incredibly industrious artist whose skill branched into many different mediums; painting, etching and drawing were all well within his grasp. I feel his style was exemplary of the idea of an artists style reflecting their sentiment - in the same way that say Tom Waits' lyrics fit around the music, as though it were impossible for the two to ever be apart. His approach was often criticised for being naive and irresolved - but what better way to depict a world on the edge and inshrouded with doubt, it was 1893. Like many at that time, Munch had a severe mistrust for the industrial revolution and the way in which it would effect both the natural world as well as that of human relations. Looking at the state of the world these days, you must admit it's hard to think his anxiety unwarranted. He was a seer, a master and utterly humane, which are just several reasons for which he is one of my favourite artists.

The Dance of Life

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