In the late nineteenth and the beginning of twentieth century, the people of the western society felt that their traditions from past are not reliable in their daily life conditions. They felt that our art, religious faiths and literature which have been traditionally followed since centuries have become outdated and cannot fit our new social, economic and political lives. Modernism means a different and modern thought, modern practices of cultural tendencies and modern characters. It also means the start of cultural movements in the western society. People did not believe in the Enlightenment ideas and thoughts anymore. These new thinkers believed that by rejecting old and outmoded thought they would be able to discover new and modern ways of making art. They believed that they would be able to help art develop from materialist to a spiritualist stage. Modernism also brings dramatic advances of technology, science and art as well as two world wars along with modern totalitarianism. Technological and scientific development in the Modernism era, changed society completely along with a unique approach towards art.
Modernist who were involved in design had more idealistic and magic views. They believed that ideas, structures and styles of designing which were inherited from the Middle Ages, Enlightenment and the Ancient Greek, should be replaced with modern ideas and designs. For instance, in the late nineteenth century private buildings were constructed vertically, so it would fit in the limited private lands, where as public buildings were constructed horizontally. On the other hand, in the twentieth century, modernists thought that private buildings should be constructed horizontally and public buildings should be constructed vertically.
Along with technology and science, art also developed rapidly. People believed that feelings should be clearly explained in the art. Artist should express their feelings clearly through paintings. People felt to replace old art with Modern Art which was inherited from the Enlightenment and Renaissance eras. Arts which were created from around 1900 to very present time are considered as the Modern Art. The Modern Art's primary ideology and belief was the rejection of photorealism and need for expressionism in art. Expressionism was a cultural movement started in Germany at the very beginning of the 20th century, which initially was presented in painting and poetry. Expressionism means any that art which stresses and explains the emotions and psychological expressions of an artist. In expressionism, artist does not only represents and shows the reality of an objective painted but also relates and represents his emotions and expressions clearly through his work of art. If combined with impressionism, the goals of the expressionism were not to convince people to reproduce their impressions for the representation of the world, but it forced artist to show their own awareness and feelings about the real meaning and representation of the world. Expressionists sought to express their intense emotions through their paintings and art. Along with Edvard Munch, there are several other famous and well known expressionist artists such as, Lionel Feininger, Otto Dix, Max Beckmann, and so forth.
Edvard Munch (1863-1944) was a famous and well know Norwegian expressionist artist. He is also known as the father of Expressionism. His famous art work was of the late 1890s, where as his works attracts, inspires and gets the greater attention of the present day artists. Munch was born and grown up in Oslo, capital of the Norway. His father had a strict religious personality and was a military doctor. His mother had tuberculosis and died when he was only five years old. His older sister named Sophie, also died of the same disease when she was fifteen years old. Edvard's younger sister had mental illness while she was very young. His only one sister was married, but she also died few months after her marriage. (Cerney) Edvard expressed almost all of his feelings about, his sister's mental illness, her mother and sister's death and grief in his work.
Edvard studied at Technical School for one year and then later on he changed his career goal and turned his face towards art. He attended many art courses at the Royal School of Drawing. Christian Krogh, who was famous and leading artist of the Norway at the time, was his instructor for few years. Edvard had many study and exhibition tours around the world. In 1885 he went to Paris for short study tour. He started his work of art at Paris. His first painting was, "The Sick Child", he painted this on her younger sister, Sophie's, sickness. (Cerney) Edvard was on short study tour of Paris but his interest in the city's art work increased rapidly and he planned to stay longer. While his stay in Paris, he went to Leon Bonnat art school. Edvard painted another famous and impressive picture in 1890, "Night", after he was informed that his father died. He expressed his loneliness and depression through "Night".
"The Scream" was known as the first and well known expressionistic picture of the 2oth century. He shows alone shrunken figure which clutches his ears and is in the screaming condition. The picture also shows two people "two friends" who are walking in the opposite direction of the shrunken figure and are leaving the figure alone. This painting is very popular because of the mystery of his sister's pain it holds in it. It forces the viewer to ask many questions from their conscious. Many people believe that it reminds of about their humanity and suggests them that it is ok to turn around sometimes in the middle of way. In his own words, Edvard Munch describes The Scream that "I was walking along a path with two friends - the sun was setting - suddenly the sky turned blood red - I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence - there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city - my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety - and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature." (Cerney) Along with The Scream, Edvard had many other famous paintings such as, "Study for a Series: Love", "The Storm", "Moonlight" and "Starry Night", "Rose and Amelie", "Metabolism" and "Vampire." Edvard's success as an artistic was accompanied by his personal issues and conflicts. His tragic love story made him unstable emotionally and he started drinking alcohol. He stayed ill for most of the time and finally died in January 23 1944. Before he died he had willed his great art collection of pictures to his birth city Oslo. All of his dedicated collections and literary notes are kept in Oslo in the Munch Museum.
In conclusion, the lives of the west population changed rapidly in the Modernism era. More developments occurred in the field of technology, science, literature and art. Art promoted from old to Modern Art. Many movements, such as, Expressionism, Impressionism and Primitivism, took place during this reformation. Expressionism forced artists to express their feeling through their arts and paintings. Many artists worked hardly in this movement in which Edvard Munch is well known. He served as an artist for almost his full life. This era not only brought excellent developed changes but also brought two world wars. People have been experiencing both good and bad times and conditions as the gift of the Modernism.
- Cerney,Rene. "Edvard Munch Art Histories Expressionist." Edvard Munch Biography. 2006. Monday January 2010