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Psyche of an Artist > Edvard Munch

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message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather | 8542 comments "Painter of the famous and emotionally charged work, "The Scream," Edvard Munch is said to have suffered from depression, agoraphobia, a nervous breakdown and to have had hallucinations, one of which inspired "The Scream." Mental illness also ran in his family, most notably with his sister. The Norwegian artist said of the relationship between his mental illness and his work, "My fear of life is necessary to me, as is my illness. Without anxiety and illness, I am a ship without a rudder ... my sufferings are part of my self and my art. They are indistinguishable from me, and their destruction would destroy my art." He wrote in one of his journals, "Illness, insanity and death were the black angels that kept watch over my cradle and accompanied me all my life."

https://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/arts-cu...


message 2: by Heather (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Creativity and Mental Illness II: The Scream

"Munch's creation of the famous "The Scream" used healthy mental processes.

The diagnosis of bipolar disorder with psychosis is based on his own diary descriptions of visual and auditory hallucinations, a multiply documented instance of his travelling throughout Europe manifesting manic disrupted behavior that culminated in his shooting two joints off the ring finger of his left hand, and his psychiatric hospitalization in 1908 for an intensification of auditory hallucinations, depression, and suicidal urges. He also suffered from bouts of alcoholism.

Munch recorded his initial conception in 1891 for his most famous artwork, titled in translation as “The Scream” as follows: “I was walking along the road with two of my friends. Then the sun set. The sky suddenly turned into blood, and I felt something akin to a touch of melancholy. I stood still, leaned against the railing, dead tired. Above the blue black fjord and city hung clouds of dripping, rippling blood. My friends went on and again I stood, frightened with an open wound in my breast. A great scream pierced through nature.” (Heller RH: Edvard Munch: The Scream. New York, Viking Press, 1972, p. 109)

This experience, clearly a visual hallucination, was creatively transformed by Munch over a period of eighteen months into a work of art.

Visual hallucinations such as Munch’s commonly occur in psychotic illnesses but healthy creative processes are necessary to transform them into art. The creative homospatial process involving superimposition of images is a conscious, intentional healthy form of cognition and not a product of the pathological condition. It is used to bring about innovations and unifications and, as in the case of “The Scream,” to articulate the emotional underpinnings of ideas and experiences. Overall, Munch's intensely focused and flexible thinking over the year's time was an instance of a healthy and transformative creative process.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/bl...



message 3: by Heather (last edited Jul 14, 2018 11:46AM) (new)

Heather | 8542 comments In post #2, it seems to be conflicting, or I am not understanding it. At first it says he was diagnosed with certain mental illnesses, but at the end it states that his 'intensely focused and flexible thinking over the year's time was an instance of a healthy and transformative creative process

I don't know what to think of these two articles. Perhaps the above quote is only referring to the year he devoted to creating The Scream?

As I said, this folder is to post articles and biographies that are published and supported by investigation and experiences. I, personally, believe Psychology Today to be a fairly credible source of information. But the two articles I posted above seem contradictory. I think further investigation on Munch could be examined.


message 4: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey Aronson (geaaronson) | 930 comments You don´t have to be absolved of psychosis to translate the experience into successful art. The underlined sentence alludes to his successful transition of his experience to visuals. This is a healthy endeavor of an unhealthy mind. That´s how to bridge the two statements.


message 5: by Ruth (last edited Jul 14, 2018 09:55PM) (new)

Ruth | 1957 comments The Scream is in the National Museum of Art in Oslo. I've seen it there. Just a personal note, if I may. My husband and his first wife were both Norwegian. (She died before I met him.) The Scream, and many of Munch's most famous paintings were owned by her uncle.. If you go to either the National Museum or the Munch Museum, you can see them labeled as "Gave fra Olaf Schou," which was the uncle's name. (Gave fra means gift from.)


message 6: by Heather (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Geoffrey wrote: "You don´t have to be absolved of psychosis to translate the experience into successful art. The underlined sentence alludes to his successful transition of his experience to visuals. This is a heal..."

Thank you so much, Geoffrey! That makes total sense.


message 7: by Heather (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Ruth wrote: "The Scream is in the National Museum of Art in Oslo. I've seen it there. Just a personal note, if I may. My husband and his first wife were both Norwegian. (She died before I met him.) The Scream, ..."

That's really neat, Ruth! I'm glad you shared that with us!


message 8: by Ellen (new)

Ellen | 116 comments Ruth, you are just full of surprises! Someday we must have a sit down. I will provide a very good, very chilled champagne and whatever else you think goes with it!


message 9: by Ellen (new)

Ellen | 116 comments Heather wrote: "In post #2, it seems to be conflicting, or I am not understanding it. At first it says he was diagnosed with certain mental illnesses, but at the end it states that his 'intensely focused and flexi..."

I think you are seeing conflict because both writers are, IMO, a little too ideological in stance. Munch indeed had profound emotional challenges: he suffered terrible family losses, his fundamentalist father was something of a brute, his love affairs were a wreck, and he grew up in the Symnbolist milieu of fin-de-siecle Europe. And who knows what drugs he was partial to. All of this shaped who we was, as a person and an artist. That is not to say, however, that one can create a clear causality between life events and physical/mental health and artistic process and creativity.

The work he made, the way he used line and color, his iconography, his subjects, is commitment to symbolist expressionism rather than impressionist empiricism, that was all conscious and well-ordered. One can be a raging lunatic and produced art that is deliberate and organized. One can be the most conventional of persons and create works that exist in a mad vortex or sensation, imagination and general kookiness.

I think they key is always to be extremely cautious with the "whys" and asserting causalities that in no way can be proven.


message 10: by Lance (new)

Lance Charnes (lcharnes) | 83 comments Ruth wrote: "The Scream is in the National Museum of Art in Oslo..."

Munch did four versions of The Scream (which he called Der Schrei der Natur, or The Scream of Nature), two in paint and two in pastels. The National Gallery has one of the painted versions, in tempera; the Munch Museum has one in oil and one in pastel. The other pastel is in a private collection.

Both painted versions have been stolen. Both were recovered with varying levels of drama.


message 11: by Heather (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Ellen, you referred to him possibly taking or doing drugs? I didn’t know that, is that a fact that he did? That could explain hallucinations, because it is a fact that he did hallucinate quite a bit.


message 12: by Ruth (last edited Jul 15, 2018 12:17PM) (new)

Ruth | 1957 comments Lance wrote: "Ruth wrote: "The Scream is in the National Museum of Art in Oslo..."

Munch did four versions of The Scream (which he called Der Schrei der Natur, or The Scream of Nature), two in paint and two in ..."


Since I’ve been to both the National and Munch museums and it was about 40 years ago, I could very well be mixed up about what I saw where. I’m pretty sure though that Olaf Schou owned one of the painted ones, and I think it’s in tha National, although I could be wrong. I do know he was a collector of Munch and owned many of his famous works. My stepchildren inherited a lithograph of The Sick Child from their mother. It was sold in Oslo many years ago.


message 13: by Ellen (new)

Ellen | 116 comments Heather wrote: "Ellen, you referred to him possibly taking or doing drugs? I didn’t know that, is that a fact that he did? That could explain hallucinations, because it is a fact that he did hallucinate quite a bit."

He lived in the age of opium and laudanum. His circle of friends that included Strinberg was a group of heavy drinkers and absinthe would certainly have been a popular taste. They were devotees of Baudelaire and other poets known for their use of opium and promotion of it as a creative muse.

Again, I am not a Munch person but there's a fair amount of research out there that suggests drug use. And there have been a couple of recent exhibitions so scholars would be paying close attention to Munch's biography. I deeply regret missing "Between the Clock and the Bed." (https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions...)


message 14: by Heather (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Ellen wrote: "He lived in the age of opium and laudanum. His circle of friends that included Strinberg was a group of heavy drinkers and absinthe would certainly have been a popular taste. They were devotees of Baudelaire and other poets known for their use of opium and promotion of it as a creative muse.
"


Well, that definitely explains hallucinations. I am very ignorant of much of the life of Munch, so this is revelatory news to me! Thank you!


message 15: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1957 comments Ellen wrote: "Ruth, you are just full of surprises! Someday we must have a sit down. I will provide a very good, very chilled champagne and whatever else you think goes with it!"

I'm in!


message 16: by Ruth (last edited Jul 15, 2018 12:20PM) (new)

Ruth | 1957 comments I like Munch's work a lot, and did even before I had a Norwegian connection.

One of my husband's Norwegian friends had a cottage on Oslofjord not far from where Munch lived. There were stories in that area about his taking his paintings out into the yard and whipping them with a switch. How's that for unbalanced?


message 17: by Heather (last edited Jul 15, 2018 12:33PM) (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Ruth wrote: "There were stories in that area about his taking his paintings out into the yard and whipping them with a switch. How's that for unbalanced? "

Wow! I don't think that is particularly normal....


message 18: by Ellen (new)

Ellen | 116 comments Ruth wrote: "I like Munch's work a lot, and did even before I had a Norwegian connection.

One of my husband's Norwegian friends had a cottage on Oslofjord not far from where Munch lived. There were stories in ..."


Hearsay is hearsay--but the local legends have a grain of truth. And Munch died in 1944. There are quite certainly old folk around who saw him, knew him, and didn't just repeat stories!
Fascinating!


message 19: by Ruth (last edited Jul 15, 2018 01:05PM) (new)

Ruth | 1957 comments Ellen wrote: "Ruth wrote: "I like Munch's work a lot, and did even before I had a Norwegian connection.

One of my husband's Norwegian friends had a cottage on Oslofjord not far from where Munch lived. There wer..."


I remember 1944. My husband was still in Norway in 1944. So no doubt these were not ancient rumors.


message 20: by Heather (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Very cool!


message 21: by Ellen (new)

Ellen | 116 comments Well I don't quite remember anything prior to 1952 but my point exactly.

One of the things I loved until 1997 was the fact that I could tell my students, as we looked at the work of Vincent van Gogh, that while we were there chatting, there was an old lady named Jeanne Calment living in Arles, France, and that Jeannne had sold pencils to VG when she was about 12. This was not merely somebody who had been alive when VG was, but someone who met him repeatedly, who knew something about him and who held a [bad] opinion of him. Through Jeanne Calment we could reach out and touch Vincent van Gogh--two degrees of separation.

And of course there were other marvelous things about this woman who lived to be 122 years old.


message 22: by Heather (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Wow, these connections! All I can say is I went to college with Peyton Manning. But I doubt he was even into art.


message 23: by Ellen (new)

Ellen | 116 comments Heather wrote: "Wow, these connections! All I can say is I went to college with Peyton Manning. But I doubt he was even into art."

Yeah, but that is actually gonna impress the guys at the bar! ;-)


message 24: by Heather (last edited Jul 16, 2018 09:14AM) (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Ellen wrote: "Heather wrote: "Wow, these connections! All I can say is I went to college with Peyton Manning. But I doubt he was even into art."

Yeah, but that is actually gonna impress the guys at the bar! ;-)"


Well, they do start messaging me online when I reveal that... lol


message 25: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey Aronson (geaaronson) | 930 comments Ellen wrote: "Ruth, you are just full of surprises! Someday we must have a sit down. I will provide a very good, very chilled champagne and whatever else you think goes with it!"

It would be great if we could all get together. I find this a pretty lively group with great comments.


message 26: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1957 comments Yes indeed. Where is everybody? I'm in SoCal, where are all of you?


message 27: by Ellen (new)

Ellen | 116 comments Geoffrey wrote: "It would be great if we could all get together. I find this a pretty lively group with great comments."

As, I think, do we all, Geoffrey. If this were my tertulia [that group of friends hanging out over coffee and beer in Spanish cafes and talking endlessly] I'd never get home! But I guess we have to have that togetherness on line.


message 28: by Ellen (new)

Ellen | 116 comments Maryland, about 40 miles up I-95 from Baltimore but about 80 minutes from Philadelphia.


message 29: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey Aronson (geaaronson) | 930 comments Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. Land of spicy food, marimba music and the hot, hot sun.


message 30: by Ellen (new)

Ellen | 116 comments Ooooh, excellent, let's visit Geoffrey!


message 31: by Heather (last edited Jul 16, 2018 01:32PM) (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Wow, we are scattered all over the place! Can't get much further in the U.S. than CA and MD! I'm in Ogden, Utah (It's ghetto, no need to come visit me lol! but from TN where it's absolutely BEAUTIFUL!). I have an aunt that lives in L.A., Ruth...

I agree with Ellen, let's all visit Geoffrey!


message 32: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1957 comments I was born and raised in LA, but now I’m in San Clemente, a beach town south of LA.


message 33: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey Aronson (geaaronson) | 930 comments Welcome all to the sunny and cool lands of Chiapas, Mexico where I am vacationing.


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