Did today’s date — 12/12/12 — make you want to scream? That’s because it’s Edvard Munch’s 149th birthday!
That’s a good joke. But it’s not a joke that 12 December is Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s birthday. It’s true. And 149 is divisible by 12, too! Sort of.
Edvard Munch, tubercular depressive that he was, painted what is now one of the most recognizable images of modern art — The Scream, that image of a balloon-headed figure in the midst of a Norwegian sunset, in a metaphorical town called Bümmerberg, screaming his guts out because… well, because there’s no God, or because the Dynamo replaced the Virgin or because movies and cars were poised to become our new objects of worship. Whatever. The point is, all is hopeless and man, does that make for some good art!
Such good art, in fact, that one version of The Scream sold in 2012 for nearly $120 million, setting a new record for a painting sold at auction.
The one thing that seems hard to remember about Edvard Munch is that he lived to be 80 years old. He seems like the kind of artist who would die young, with that tragic luster we’ve come to expect.
He almost makes the grade that way. He lived to a ripe old age, but only as a recluse. For the last three decades of his life he seemed content to do his own thing, which meant painting and drawing and etching and printmaking. When he died he left a mountain of work behind, and now it all belongs to the Munch Museum in Oslo.
Read more about him and follow the links from our biography of Edvard Munch.