Finding meaning in a picture

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 December, 2010, 12:00am

Many famous painters only become famous after they die. Often, their love for their art is more important than food. Munch saw his artworks as his children, and hated selling them.

Beginnings and endings

Edvard Munch was born in Norway on December 12, 1863. He travelled all over the world with his art. But he was in Norway when he died on January 23, 1944.

Munch was an 'expressionist'. Expressionism was a movement to express the meaning of being alive.

Expressionists tried to portray inner emotions, not outward, physical experiences.

Art as an explanation

Munch started painting before he was a teenager. He went to a technical college to study engineering in 1879. He did very well in physics, chemistry and mathematics. This helped him with his art.

He left the college after a year to become a painter. He said he painted 'to explain life and its meaning to' himself. We all scream

The Scream is one of the most famous paintings in the world. Munch painted it in 1893. He painted several versions, and then did one in pastels.

The Munch Museum in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, has one painted version of The Scream, and the National Gallery of Norway has the other. Both have been stolen and found again.

Inspiration for The Scream?

In 1883, a massive volcano erupted on the island of Krakatoa in Indonesia. The ash made the sky red in Europe and Asia for nearly three months. Some people think this is why the sky in the painting is red.

Munch's explanation

This is how Munch described his inspiration: ' I was walking along a path with two friends - the sun was setting - suddenly the sky turned blood red - I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence - there was blood and tongues of fire ... I stood there trembling with anxiety - and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.'

Now do this:

1 Why do you think Munch's art has realistic dimensions?

a. He always used a ruler.

b. He studied engineering.

c. He travelled a lot as a child.

2 What is the name of the island on which a volcano erupted in 1883?

a. Norway

b. Paris

c. Krakatoa

3 What is the name of Munch's most famous painting?

a. Krakatoa

b. The Scream

c. The Explanation

Answers on