Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream

Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream

by Sue Prideaux
     
 

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Although almost everyone recognizes Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream, hardly anyone knows much about the man. What kind of person could have created this universal image, one that so vividly expressed all the uncertainties of the twentieth century? What kind of experiences did he have? In this book, the first comprehensive biography of Edvard

Overview


Although almost everyone recognizes Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream, hardly anyone knows much about the man. What kind of person could have created this universal image, one that so vividly expressed all the uncertainties of the twentieth century? What kind of experiences did he have? In this book, the first comprehensive biography of Edvard Munch in English, Sue Prideaux brings the artist fully to life. Combining a scholar’s precision with a novelist’s insight, she explores the events of his turbulent life and unerringly places his experiences in their intellectual, emotional, and spiritual contexts.
With unlimited access to tens of thousands of Munch’s papers, including his letters and diaries, Prideaux offers a portrait of the artist that is both intimate and moving. Munch sought to paint what he experienced rather than what he saw, and as his life often veered out of control, his experiences were painful. Yet he painted throughout his long life, creating strange and dramatic works in which hysteria and violence lie barely concealed beneath the surface. An extraordinary genius, Munch connects with an audience that reaches around the world and across more than a century.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Most famous for his painting The Scream, an iconic expression of anxiety and a reflection of his inner torment, Edvard Munch strove to paint his "soul's diary," a quest Prideaux chronicles incisively in this fascinating study. The first comprehensive English-language biography of Munch (1863-1944) presents an in-depth artistic, intellectual and psychological portrait of the Norwegian artist. A novelist and art historian, Prideaux (Magnetic North) enlivens her narrative with excerpts from Munch's diaries, effectively tracing the roots of his mental suffering: his father's religious fanaticism, the death of his mother and favorite sister, the insanity of another sister and the fear that he would go mad himself. Prideaux also charts Munch's intellectual influences, his immersion in Nietzsche and Dostoyevski and his involvement with a group of radical Norwegian intellectuals, including Hans Jaeger (a founding father of existentialism), and his later notable association with playwright and painter August Strindberg. Munch's angst-ridden paintings, imbued with fears of sex, illness and death, shocked the conservative Norwegian public, but found a receptive audience in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, where the study of mental disorders was coming into vogue. This penetrating account of his life sheds light on the inner demons that drove him to create these disturbing images. (Oct) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In 1893, Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944) painted The Scream, which became an icon for anxiety and alienation in the modern age. With scholarly care and skill, art historian and novelist Prideaux (Magnetic North) presents the first comprehensive biography of the artist to appear in English. Drawing from his personal papers, letters, and diaries, she examines Munch's life, beginning with his difficult childhood. Munch's mother died when he was five; he contracted tuberculosis at 13 and, near death himself, spent a winter in a sanatorium; his favorite sister, Sophie, died when he was 15; and, overall, the family was impoverished. Prideaux notes that these experiences influenced his dark and brooding paintings of loneliness and loss. Munch's greatest success was in Germany, where he inspired that country's expressionist movement. Much later, the story of the Nazi reaction to Munch's art, which officials condemned, confiscated, and then hoarded, is fascinating. Prideaux is not presenting an argument here but introducing and following Munch's own theme, which was to "paint his life." Her treatment is very effective and her writing, cohesive, clear, and often compelling. Recommended.-Ilene Skeen, Hunter Coll., New York Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
San Francisco Chronicle
“Prideaux captures the gloom of the Nordic artist’s life and work. . . . A gripping read.”

— Christine Temin

John Milner
“Such was the nature of Edvard Munch’s life that this book makes a gripping read. Prideaux provides a convincing sense of the psychological experiences of Munch and also the flavor of the times that he occupied.”—John Milner, University of Newcastle

San Francisco Chronicle - Christine Temin
“Prideaux captures the gloom of the Nordic artist’s life and work. . . . A gripping read.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300124019
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
06/14/2007
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
391
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 1.05(d)

Meet the Author


Sue Prideaux is an art historian and the author of four novels.

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