Edvard Munch was a great painter of the late 1800s. He was a Norwegian Symbolist painter whose work was a forerunner of Expressionist art as done by figures such as Van Gogh. Very poor and ill for most of his childhood, Munch received much of his schooling through tutoring by his siblings, aunt and father. It was by drawing that Munch entertained himself most of the time, especially during the long winters when he was ill. Soon Munch’s interest in drawing turned into a career in painting. Though his style of painting was influenced heavily by the Post-Impressionist painters, Munch’s art was more Symbolist in style than anything else.
The most famous painting Munch ever created was probably The Scream, something that is often parodied by pop artist and the media today. Indeed, it is probably one of the most recognizable paintings in the whole long history of art. Suffering from mental problems, Munch had stopped on a bridge, tired, late one evening. The setting sun was a brilliant and bloody red. The lonely Munch later took this personal moment and the fear of nature and turned it into a great work of art. The screaming figure is alone with nature. The two people in the distance walking down the bridge towards us and the screamer seem not to notice the ferocity of nature and the lonely despair and fright of the man in the foreground. His wild-eyed scream is seen only by the viewer and indeed it is nearly felt as well.
The same bloody red and orange sky can be found in another of Munch’s paintings as well. This painting is entitled Anxiety. It is the same setting as is seen in The Scream. Instead of the one lonely figure we have a crowd. Every figure is facing the viewer, walking the same direction across the bridge. The blood red sky is as angry and frightening as ever. The individuals star forward with a wild-eyed, slightly crazed look. It is easy to feel the anxiety, nervousness and fright. We are left wondering what it is that they are so frightened of. Are they running from something beyond the other end of the bridge we cannot see? Or is it the terrifying ferocity of nature and the unknown that drives these poor individuals to this anxiety driven state of madness?Few people ever reach the fame that Munch has achieved through his painting The Scream. Even if the artist of the painting isn’t known, it is immediately recognizable to many of the people throughout the world – much in the same way that Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is recognizable. Munch has transcended time with his art, speaking not to the people of his time but to something within the soul of every individual that keeps people coming back to his work again and again.