Dictionary of Art and Artists


that Changed the World


  Lascaux Caves Manesse illuminated Massys Callot Friedrich Picasso
  Tutankhamen's tomb Lorenzetti Grunewald Rembrandt Constable Matisse
  Europa and Minotaur Karlstein Castle Baldung Claude Lorrain Delacroix Marc
  Banquet Tomb Limbourg brothers Altdorfer Velazquez Turner Kandinsky
  Pompeii Van Eyck Cranach Vermeer Ingres Monet
  Birth of Christianity Della Francesca Holbein Rigaud Manet Chirico
  Hagia Sophia Uccello Titian Watteau Burne-Jones Modigliani
  Book of Kells Mantegna Bruegel Canaletto Seurat Chagall
  St Benedict Botticelli Vicentino Boucher Van Gogh Kahlo
  Bayeux Tapestry Anonymous Arcimboldo Fragonard Toulouse-Lautrec Dali
  Donizo manuscript Durer El Greco Gainsborough Munch Ernst
  Liber Scivias Bosch Theodore de Bry John Trumbull Cezanne Hopper
  Carmina Burana Da Vinci Caravaggio David Gauguin Bacon
  Falcon Book Michelangelo Rubens Gros Degas Warhol
  Giotto Raphael Brouwer Goya Klimt  

From Lascaux to Warhol

Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truth,
passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius,
but never abandoned.

William Butler Yeats



"I Painted the Clouds like Real Blood"

The shadows of a bleak childhood



One evening I was walking along a street, tired and ill, with two friends: the city and the fjord lay below us. The sun was setting and the clouds turned blood red. Then I heard the colours of nature scream -and that shrill cry echoed over the fjord.

Edvard Munch, From My Diary, 1929


Edvard Munch, Death in the Sick-Room, 1893

Edvard Munch had a hard life. A doctor's son, he had a bleak childhood in Oslo. "My home was the home of illness, agony and death", he was to write in his memoirs. His mother died of tuberculosis at the age of thirty, leaving behind four children. Edvard was only six at the time. In her letter of farewell she wrote: "And now, my dear children, my sweet little ones, I say farewell to you. Your father will be able to tell you about how to get to Heaven better than I can. I'll be there waiting for you all." A pious woman who accepted her fate, all she could do was to hope for joy in the world to come — certainly not a legacy likely to inspire happiness and a zest for living in her children. Until he was thirteen, every time Edvard had a fever he was convinced that he was going to die. Influenced by his mother's negative way of viewing things, he vowed never to look forward to anything again. His father, at heart a good man, was distressing to his children. A sister of Munch's had already died of tuberculosis and, after the death of his beloved wife, Munch's father took refuge in fanatical pietism, forcing a strict regimen of prayer on his children.

When he was older, Edvard argued incessantly with his father, while a second sister became a religious fanatic who was eventually declared insane.

From around 1889 onwards, Edvard became increasingly depressive, suffering from occasional fits of terror. Yet, by the age of seventeen, he had discovered another language with which to express his feelings of desperation: painting. It promised relief, consolation and hope. In a state of feverish excitement, he concluded that "the curse on mankind has become the undertone of my art — and my paintings pages in my diary". His visits to Paris and Berlin proved to be a great inspiration and, at the age of twenty-eight, he painted The Scream — an archetype of human experience on canvas. All the terrors of human existence seem to concentrate in the face, twisted with fear. Like so many other paintings of his, The Scream is, as Edvard Munch said himself, "a bitterly earnest scene — and a child of sleepless nights, which have taken their toll in blood and nerves".


Edvard Munch
The Scream


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