Edvard Munch is widely known for his haunting expressionist paintings, including The Scream. The Norwegian artist was a complicated man who dealt with illness, mental health issues and alcoholism throughout the course of his life, all of which influenced his famous work.
Here are five facts about the man behind The Scream:
He had a troubled childhood
Munch’s mother passed away from tuberculosis when he was just 5 years old and his sister died from the same disease when he was 14.
Munch was raised by his father who suffered from mental illness and was incredibly religious. His father would read tales of terror from Edgar Allan Poe to the children and would verbally lash out when they misbehaved.
One of his sisters was sent to an asylum and in 1908 Munch checked himself into a sanatorium after he started hearing voices. These dark early experiences heavily influenced his artwork.
He ended up with a gunshot wound after a break up
Munch met the young and wealthy Tulla Larsen in 1898 and she followed him across Europe. Munch refused to marry her and she threatened suicide. The details of the shooting remain a mystery but the relationship ended in 1902 with a gunshot wound to a finger on Munch’s left hand.
He took selfies
Munch bought his first camera in 1902 and often took photos of his face and body. His experiments with photography included self-portraits clothed, nude, in and out of focus, in company and amongst nature. In 1927 Munch bought a video camera and started making home movies. He was the vlogger of his day!
His painting The Scream has inspired pop culture
Munch’s cultural influence continues to this day. The Scream in particular has inspired filmmakers, writers and other artists. The poster for ‘Home Alone’ featuring Macauly Caulkin is just one memorable example, as well as the mask from the 1996 movie franchise, ‘Scream.’
He donated all his artwork to the Norwegian government
On his death in 1944, Munch passed his creations to the Norwegian government. In total he gifted 1000 paintings, 15,400 prints, 4500 drawings and 6 sculptures. The country built the Munch Museum of Art in his honour and his art has been shared amongst a number of museums and art exhibits throughout the world.