“I don’t paint what I see but what I saw”

munch sick child

Edvard Munch’s 1896 painting The Sick Child. Photograph: AP.

There’s much that’s discoverable for me about Munch. These excerpts stood out. Artists I admire are similarly self-critical and leery of pretty pictures.

Munch’s house and studio were on a remote hillside above Oslo, where he fled after his 1908 breakdown to escape “the enemy” – critics and fellow artists. He would live there with his beloved dogs, and the occasional horse, until his death. Liberated from his angst and alcoholism, he painted and repainted the nature around him, jealously hoarding his work while treating it with mind-boggling contempt. He would leave paintings outside in in all weathers beneath a narrow mansard, saying: “It does them good to fend for themselves.”

Munch drew animals beautifully, visiting zoos to study them. But he wrote: “We want more than a mere photograph of nature. We do not want to paint pretty pictures to be hung on drawing room walls. We want to create, or at least lay the foundations of, an art that gives something to humanity. An art that arrests and engages. An art created of one’s innermost heart.”

munch outside studio

Edvard Munch with brush and palette with his canvases at his house outside Oslo. Photograph: Munchmuseet.

(Claire Armitstead, “Edvard Munch: booze, bullets and breakdowns,” The Guardian, 4-8-19 — Note: “Armitstead” is not a typo.)

(c) 2019 JMN.

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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