Abstract emotions

This gallery includes works of art created by the Expressionist painter, Edvard Munch, whose Symbolic paintings reveal the inner emotions of figures depicted. His art reflects an emotion or idea rather than the natural world in an objective manner, as well as represents the reality of his inner subjectivity.                         Gallery created by: Natalie Potter.

The Scream is known as one of the most iconic human figures in the history of Western art. It is in fact a surprisingly simple work, in which the artist utilized a minimum of forms to achieve maximum expressiveness. The artwork reflects the feeling of horror and surprise through the figure's facial features. The skull-shaped head, elongated hands, wide eyes, flaring nostrils, and ovid mouth have been engrained into our collective cultural consciousness, and is seen as a look of horror and/or insanity. This painting defines the time of Symbolic and Expressionist art, which are confronted with questions regarding the nature of subjectivity and its visual depiction.
Anxiety is Munch's second most famous painting within his collection, (his first being The Scream). Munch closely repeats many elements of The Scream in this painting. The same jetty that accommodated a single alienated personage appears again, as do the lake in the distance, the two boats, the church, and other structures that line the shore just a little less dimly than before. The are all quoted from the earlier work, as are the gloomy hues and the intense swirls of concentrically enlarging lines that define and ultimately embrace land, sea, and sky. If, however, The Scream deals with the horror experienced in total isolation by a single being, Anxiety plays upon collective despair. The sentiment of angst in this work is even more sustained, if less piercing, than in The Scream, since its desperation is here born by a group rather than by an isolated individual.
Originally called Loving Woman, this picture can be taken to symbolize what Munch considered the essential acts of the female life cycle: sexual intercourse, causing fertilization, procreation and death. Evidence for the first is in the picture itself, an intensified, spiritualized variation in the nude of the mating pose, the woman depicted as though recumbent beneath her lover. From his own comments on the picture, Munch saw the painting as representing the eternal cyclical process of generation and decay in nature. He continually connected love with death: for the man, because it eviscerated him. For the woman, because, following Schopenhauer, he appears to have thought her function ended with child-bearing. Munch's few thoughts on love are depicted through this painting, as well as his commentary of the subject in personal records.
Reverting to the theme of the death, Munch produced a work very different from his previous painting, The Sick Child. The whole family is shown here, and the emphasis shifts from the experience of the dying girl to that of the mourning relatives. The child sits facing diagonally to the rear, invisible both to us and to all the mourners except her praying father. What we do see of her is partly transparent, as though she were already beginning to dematerialize. Each of the mourners reacts differently and there is no intercourse among them; confronted with the loneliness of death, each retreats into his or her lonely self. The younger sister is the only other figure seated, in a profile pose of sorrowful meditation. Mourning and sadness are seen very prominently within this work of art.
Jealousy is a narrative based painting that tells the story about a love triangle involving Munch, as himself; Strindberg, one of Munch’s colleagues; and Dagny, the woman both of them were competing for. Strindberg was a Swedish refugee that Munch met in 1892 and the two became very close friends due to their mutual love of painting. The two intellectually collaborated and shared different insights on how they painted different subjects. Both were jealous of each other not only for their talent in painting but also with their affiliations with Dagny. They then decided to collaborate and paint the same theme which was appropriately, jealousy. Stylistically, this painting does show jealousy and betrayal in its purest form. Munch painted the woman Dagny under the Edenesque tree wearing a red robe. The bright red color on her robe signifies the soiling of purity and sin; the ability to see her nakedness under her robe shows the exposure of the bare truth under her lies. Munch also paints himself with Dagny under the tree and in the foreground he has painted Staczu Prybyszewski, Dagny’s former husband, twisted in jealousy. (Description for the original 1895 painting; this version differs from the original).
Here Munch illustrates the man's sorrow at parting from his love - the end of the story begun in The Kiss. The lovelorn man appears to move forward into the future, but his path is blocked by the crimson plant, possibly intended as a mandrake, with its love and death symbolism. He seems trapped in the present. Moreover the girl's long hair floats across into his world, tying him to his vision, allowing him no escape from his memory. The feeling of heartbreak is displayed through Munch's own portrayal of the scene, possibly from personal experience.
Munch illustrated sadness and sorrow through Weeping Nude. He portrays a woman, sitting spread out on her bed, with her head leaning into her hands and back leaning forward as if she's given up completely. The manner in which Munch went about this scene is very dramatic. From her pose to the colors and textures he used, this painting depicts all feelings of sadness and hurt.
In Melancholy I, Munch depicts his friend Jappe Nilssen, sitting by a lone, desolate shoreline, in deep thought. His shoulders are stooped, his expression grim, and he seems to be looking into the depths of the water. He is a dark figure alone on a dark landscape. The red of the sky could be indicative of his desire to have someone to love in his life. Munch was focused on showing viewers the anxiety that is part of the human condition in a modern world.
This painting captures a moment between two nudes; the woman pulling the man towards her in a lover's embrace, and mouths locked in a passionate kiss. It is an example of Munch's theme of the femme fatal as the dominant creature, taking control to feed her sexual appetite. The blending of the two faces in this picture symbolizes Munch's thoughts; that when two people are in love, they lose their own identity and meld into one. There is nothing sweet or loving about this piece, for Munch did not look very highly on women and had a negative view on love. In this picture especially, viewers can almost feel the pain, and the inner conflict within his own mind. It depicts a loving couple that are seemingly passionate for each other, but is painted in a dark manner that reveals his underlying thoughts on the subject.
This picture deals with the relationship between man and nature. It is a fascinating expression of the tense relationship between him and her. She is standing still, in contemplation or loneliness, at the seashore and seems to be completely engrossed in all of nature, with the sea and the sky portrayed as one totality that lies before her. At a good distance, though turning towards her and with one foot in front of the other and slightly bent, he stands hesitating and waiting. His longing for her contrasts starkly with her calm, dreaming figure as she looks out over the sea that is constantly in motion. The sky with the sea was one section, the seashore with the man another one, and the woman he cut out as a third, independent part. Unlike the man, who is attached to the ground, the woman is not attached to anything – nor is she part of the same element as he is. The shore on which they stand and the water they are facing emphasise the mood of yearning and loneliness both thematically and visually.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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