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What lies at the heart of Edvard Munch’s hold on the modern imagination? His most famous work, The Scream
, has so permeated culture both high and low that the same week a version of it sold at auction for a staggering $120 million at Sotheby’s, you could shop eBay and find the same image on refrigerator magnets and a poster featuring Homer Simpson mimicking its iconic pose.
The Norwegian Munch (1863–1944) spanned a seminal and tumultuous period in Western art, moving from Symbolism in the late 19th century to a role as a defining figure in the development of modern Expressionist painting. He forged new paths into the personal and psychological realms of painting and broke longstanding taboos about appropriate subject matter for the modern artist.
Absorbing ideas and influences from Post-Impressionists van Gogh and Gauguin, Munch developed a personal style based in large part on the recollection and exploration of painful events from his own life.
Art historian and National Gallery of Art senior lecturer David Gariff explores Munch’s importance as both a painter and printmaker and how his achievements influenced other artists.