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Edvard Munch's Body of Work

Edvard Munch was born in Norway and spent much of his life in Oslo. Munch's work seems to borrow more from the existentialists, at least thematically, than from earlier artists. Much of his work is focused on the issue of resolving questions of meaning in a modern world in which old traditions have broken down. Spirituality was also an important element in his life, and work.

Munch had a unique body of work within the framework of his career, termed the Frieze of Life, that stands out because of its thematic foundation. He seems to be a relatively studied, and intellectual, artist, working within a framework established through intensive reflection and analysis. At the same time, he was considered to have overstepped the boundary between sanity and madness, but he survived his nervous breakdown, and intensive drinking phase, and lived a long and productive life, if not an easy, calm one.

Having spent most of his life living in Oslo, Munch developed strong ties to that locality. In fact, it was to the City of Oslo itself that he bequeathed the bulk of his work at his death, which was considerable. As a consequence, it is possible to look at his work almost as a whole in one collection.

Munch made the strongest early assertion about his intentions in late 1880, when he stated in his journal that he had left the Technical College and developed the firm intention of becoming a painter (Boe, 1989).

His early training was all within Norway itself, although he had exposure to other kinds of artwork through the National Gallery, magazines, and friends. It was not until 1885 that he actually visited Paris, however, where Boe (1989) speculated that he might have seen the great exhibition of Impressionist art. He was essentially a young student during this earliest period, with the tendency of young students to become involved with the cutting edge of intellectual and political life of the time. He was definitely among t...

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