Edvard Munch. The Storm. 1893

Oil on canvas, 36 1/8 x 51 1/2" (91.8 x 130.8 cm). Gift of Mr. and Mrs. H. Irgens Larsen and acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest (by exchange) and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Funds. © 2022 The Munch Museum / The Munch-Ellingsen Group / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Narrator: Curator, Ann Temkin.

Curator, Ann Temkin: This is Aasgaardstrand, which is a resort and fishing village in Norway where Munch often spent his summers.

What you have is an image of a woman in the foreground who has her ears covered, but if you look at all the women in the row behind her at some distance back, they are covering their ears also.

Probably what they're holding their ears against is loud winds. And you can tell by the bending trees in front of the building in the center that it's a pretty horrific wind going.

And I think the main thing that informs The Storm is that Munch has the idea of one person who's isolated. And a community of others—here it's five or six other women. You have this sense of Munch seeing the world through the eyes of somebody who is themselves pitted against a community which he’s not a part of.

For Munch, his life was full of far more than your average share of tragedy, starting with his mother dying when he was a very young boy, so on the one hand, yes, there's Munch’s own story of suffering and tragedy. On the other hand, it's very, very emblematic of this period of the 1890s all over Europe when there was a real change in the psyche where the Industrial Revolution had taken hold. The 1890s was a time when many artists were experimenting with the idea of an image that was painted not really to depict an external reality, but an internal one. And he, like many of his generation, got away from the idea that color is something you use to describe how the world looks. And instead he thought about color as a vehicle for conveying a mood, creating an expressive atmosphere.

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