Spectral Visions

I’ve always been a huge fan of Edvard Munch.  The psychological weight he was able to express in his paintings is just amazing to me.  But, I guess when you think about his life it’s not too surprising his artwork is loaded with existential angst.

First of all, his mother died when he was five and his favorite sister when he was fourteen.  His mother’s death so upset his father that he developed extreme religious anxieties; he would tell Edvard and his sisters stories about the eternal punishments awaiting them in Hell.  On top of that, Edvard was often ill causing him to miss a lot of school meaning he got to spend even more time with his father.

By the time he reached manhood he was spending a lot of time drinking and fighting and generally being unhappy.  Then, he was shot in a struggle with the only woman he ever loved (other than his mother and sisters).

After that he suffered a nervous breakdown, nobody liked his paintings and things were generally pretty terrible, but he continued making art; recording the painfulness of his life and eventually people came around to understand the beauty of his work; how effectively his images capture man’s existential dilemma.

Things got better.  Norway built a museum to house his works.  They even put his image on a bank note.

It all sounds familiar doesn’t it: another story of a misunderstood genius whose strength of vision carries mankind to new insights that help people to better understand who they are?

I guess it’s a story with a happy ending even though there was a lot of suffering involved.


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