What inspired Edvard Munch? – Motifs from the Oslo region – visitosloregion.com

The Oslo region in Munch's art

The landsacpes and people of the Oslo region as seen by Edvard Munch.

The Oslo region was the home turf of painter Edvard Munch. He was born and raised here, and he spent time at several places in the region throughout his life. It was also here that Munch painted some of his best-known works, with motifs inspired by his surroundings.

Join us on a journey through Munch’s Oslo region, and see how its landscapes and people are rendered by one of the world’s finest artists.

The angst in Oslo

Edvard Munch grew up and started out as a young artist in Oslo. As an adult his relation to the city became strained, and Oslo housed some of his harshest critics and fiercest rivals.

Oslo ended up serving as the backdrop of some of Munch's most angst-filled paintings, such as Scream and Evening on Karl Johan. But he also made lively renditions of the bohemian life at Oslo's Grand Café in the 1880s and harmonic paintings of the inner Oslo fjord and starry nights above his estate at Ekely.

The shores of Åsgårdstrand

Edvard Munch spent his first of many summers in Åsgårdstrand in 1889. In 1897, he bought a small fisherman’s cottage here, which he came to refer to as his “happy place”.

The distinctive shorelines of Åsgårdstrand immediately captured Munch’s interest. His stylized rendition of these shores, often combined with moonlight, became a recurring element in his large existential project The Frieze of Life. The shores of Åsgårdstrand also appear in more cheerful paintings of life by the Oslo fjord.

Life in Kragerø

Edvard Munch arrived in the fjord-side town of Kragerø in 1909, after a long period of illness. He rented a house with a view of the Oslo fjord, and entered into one of the most joyful and productive periods of his artistic life.

The nature of Kragerø inspired Munch’s vitalistic mural The Sun – a rising sun, the purest symbol of the force of life, rendered with bold, powerful brush strokes. Other motifs from Kragerø appear in Munchs art as well: the picturesque streets, the changing of seasons, and people going about their daily lives.

The workers in Moss

In 1913, Munch moved to Jeløya outside Moss, where he ended up living until 1916. His years at Jeløya were highly productive and intense, and Munch worked eagerly with graphics, paintings and colourful woodcuts.

One of Munch's most famous depictions of labourers, Workers on their way home, was painted in Moss. Munch also rendered the beautiful cultural landscapes at Jeløya in several works. And rumour has it that some of Munch’s best-known harvest paintings, such as Man in the cabbage field, radiate the unique lights and colours that you find in this area.