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Another universe of Edvard Munch: newly-released Munch original drawings, especially "The Scream", reveal different look

The Munch museum gathered pictures of all the artist’s drawings in a new database. Surprisingly different initial versions of Norwegian art icon Edvard Munch's signature work 'The Scream' could be seen after over 7,600 sketches, many previously unknown, were published for unrestricted use. The sketches show how 'The Scream' looked before the world-famous version.
Over a hundred years on from a fateful stroll in Oslo’s Ekeburg, when a blood-red sunset gave Edvard Munch the inspiration for what later became the work for which he is arguably best known, the Munch Museum is releasing previously unknown sketches and drawings by the Norwegian artist.
Edward Munch. Scream
1893, 91×73.5 cm
​"I was walking along the road with two friends — the sun was setting. I felt a gust of melancholy. Suddenly the sky turned blood-red".

Edvard Munch
That is how Edvard Munch describes the impactful stroll in Ekeberg, Oslo, on an evening in the late 1800s. It would make an indelible impression on him, and eventually result in the painting "The Scream". He leaned against the fence, feeling "unspeakably tired", as his friends went on walking. He lagged behind "shivering with fear — and felt an enormous infinite scream through nature".

Munch struggled to depict the experience from his stroll on canvass and make others feel the way he had felt. He initially depicted a man standing by a fence by the Oslo Fjord, with red clouds in the sky (see photo). This did not give him the desired response.

Being afraid that people would only notice the clouds in the picture and not the anxiety, Munch "had long wanted to paint his memory of a sunset, red as blood. No, it was clotted blood. But no one would feel the same way as him. Everyone would think of clouds." In the book "Days and nights amongst artists", artist and friend, Christian Skredsvig, described how Munch spoke with great sadness about this event that had struck him with fear. "Sadness, because the means of art were inadequate…"
Magne Bruteig, Senior Curator at the Munch Museum, worked a lot on Munch’s oeuvre. "At a certain point, he understands that the pictures are not powerful enough. There is a melancholy atmosphere instead of the anxiety he experienced. And for Munch, the clouds were not perceived as clouds. They were clotted blood. It is pure anxiety", — says Bruteig.

From then on, Munch changed his sketches. "In the sketches, we see that he begins to turn this figure towards us. We begin to see the face", says Bruteig.
Edvard Munch was born in Løten December 12, 1863. He is best-known as an Expressionist painter and printer. In the late 20th century, he was an important figure of German Expressionism
You can hardly tell the exact day or year of the birth of Expressionism, which is usual for all powerful art movements. You cannot draw a border on the map and indicate the territory where Expressionism took its start and got stronger. Overall, it’s all roughly known. Except for one rock-solid spatiotemporal benchmark: Northern Europe on the eve of the First World War. Expressionism is an avant-garde art movement, a new tragic worldview, and a whole set of significant motifs, symbols, and myths. Moreover, it is a revolutionary reaction both to the shabby, lifeless traditional academic art, and the light, idyllic southern impressionistic “appearance” of the world. Read more
, and the art form that later followed; namely because of the strong mental anguish that was displayed in many of the pieces that he created.
When Munch died in 1944 at the age of 80, he left around 28 000 original works of art, of which 1,150 paintings, 17,800 prints, 4,500 watercolors, 13 sculptures, a stash of drawings, and the contents of his Norwegian studio to the city of Oslo. This massive trove included several of Munch’s masterpieces, as well as the paints and brushes he used to make them. In his will, Munch left all his artwork that was in his own possession to Oslo municipality.

Edvard Munch is primarily thought of as a painter, but he was also a very technical printmaker, and enjoyed experimenting with textures and tones. None of his prints was done on a whim. He was extremely prolific in the medium and made many hundreds of impressions of different subjects. One of his famous print "Vampire II" is offered in Prints and Multiples sale at Christie’s in London on 28 March.

Left: Munch (1863−1944), Vampire II. Block 380×553 mm, sheet 525×613 mm. Estimate: £250,000−350,000.
The Munch Museum has received 22 million kroner (2.3 million euros) in support from the Bergesen Foundation, a non-profit foundation benefitting social and humanitarian projects, Dagbladet reports.
Four art historians have spent four years systemising, scanning and digitalising the drawings. In total, they have entered 7644 drawings into the database.

Of the 22 million kroner, 12 million has been allocated to digitalisation of the drawings, and 10 million will later be used to digitalise all other works of art, including graphic works, photos, paintings and sculptures. The funds will also finance a new biography on Edvard Munch, which is being launched internationally.
" We want the art to be available to people everywhere",
Director of the Munch Museum

While Munch’s canvases are regularly on view in museums around the world, his materials rarely see the light of day, due to their inherent fragility. Photo documentation of the tools isn’t readily available to the public, either.

In summer 2017, the Munch Museum has teamed up with Adobe, the mega-software company behind Photoshop, to bring Munch’s paintbrushes back to life.

In an effort to promote one artist’s legacy—and, of course, to launch a saleable product—they retrieved seven of Munch’s brushes from the depths of climatized storage and transformed them into digital tools. When taken up by Photoshop- and Sketch-savvy millennials, the brushes would have the ability to imitate the artist’s strokes. So now everyone could paint like a master and even create digital version of the famous Munch’s masterpiece "Scream".

Left: Munch’s paintbrushes. Image courtesy of Adobe.

Now the museum collection is available for everyone. Munch’s works, including the early versions of 'The Scream', can be searched in the electronic collection available on the Munch Museum’s website.
Title illustration: Cornelius Poppe / NTB scanpix

Based on materials of, Dagbladet, official site of Munch Museum.
Artists mentioned in the article
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