The motif Dance of Life is central to the series Frieze of Life. The first time Munch painted the motif was in 1899-1900. Many years later, in 1925, he painted it once more when he took up again several of the motifs from the Frieze of Life. The technique was different, but the motifs and colours were the same
In the middle a young couple are dancing. They seem to have melted together. The woman’s red dress wraps itself around the man’s leg. The red colour continues like a contour line around the man and runs into his clothes. They dance face to face, silent and unsmiling, and the woman’s hair blows towards the man.
On either side of the couple there is a woman. In from the left a young woman dressed in white comes towards us, bright and happy. On the right stands a woman dressed in black, rigid and serious.
In the background other couples dance and swirl merrily around, the women dressed in white and the men in black. We notice one particular couple, where the man greedily throws himself over the woman.

On the left we see the moon and moonbeam mirrored in the sea - a symbol of fertility and the mystical spirit of life. Just in front of the woman in white there is a flower.
When Munch painted Dance of Life in 1899 he was inspired by symbolism and used colours symbolically to express different feelings: red for love, passion and pain; white for youth, innocence and joy; and black for loneliness, sorrow and death.
The contents of Dance of Life are wide-ranging and take up several of the elements and themes Munch had worked on in other pictures in the 1890s. We recognise the shoreline and moonbeam from The Voice, and the woman’s hair blowing towards the man’s face in Eye in Eye. The Dance of Life is closely related to Woman/Sphinx.


  • Title: The Dance of Life
  • Creator Lifespan: 1863-12-12/1944-01-23
  • Creator Nationality: Norwegian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Jarlsborgveien 14, Oslo. Norway
  • Creator Birth Place: Løten, Hedmark. Norway
  • Date Created: 1925
  • Physical Dimensions: w2080 x h1430 mm
  • Painter: Edvard Munch
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: © Munch-museet/Munch -Ellingsen Gruppen/Bono

Additional Items

The Dance of Life (Supplemental)

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