During my family visit to Norway this summer, I had the opportunity to go and see Edward Munch’s cottage in the small coastal town of Åsgårdstrand in the southern part of Norway. My older brother, Morten, his son Jørgen (my nephew), and myself decided to go on a road trip to explore some of the historic site close to my brother’s home in the city of Tønsberg. I have never really been a great fan of Munch’s work, but after visiting his cottage and then digging deeper into his large collection of artwork, I have had a change of heart.
I learned that not all of Munch’s art depicts the “angst of life” – like the Scream, Puberty, or Ashes. Those are part of the series of paintings from the mid-1890s he called the “Frieze of Life”. In this theme he explored the many stages of life, like fear, sickness, love, anxiety, infidelity, jealousy, and death. In spite of the great value of these paintings, they are not something I would hang on my wall (even if I could afford it) and make a focus for my everyday life.
I have always preferred art that celebrate the beauty and the richness of life, rather than tragedy and angst. So what I discovered, was that Munch lived a rather charmed life, and that he painted plenty of charmed pastoral scenes from the regions of Norway close to his yellow cottage and the small red studio. In the last few weeks I have browsed through hundreds of Munch’s landscapes, ocean scenes, portraits, and paintings of all aspects of human life. The best collection of Munch’s paintings can be found on the website called paintingstar.com with several hundred of his paintings.
Another aspect of Munch’s life that I connected with was the location of his property, and the architectural style of his cottage and studio. Munch was also an avid gardener (like myself), and he enjoyed fresh vegetables, fruit, and berries from his garden as a nice addition to his diet during the summer months.
So it was easy for me to relate to this part of his life, because I spent much of my childhood in a similar yellow cottage with a small red outbuilding, and it was located only thirty minutes from Edward Munch’s cottage. Every summer, all through high school, my family spent five weeks in our little summer cottage on the island of Nøtterøy, south of Tønsberg. I also spent lots of time drawing at that age, so there are a few parallels in our lives, except that my budding art career faded into oblivion a long time ago.
Of course, now that I am inspired again by the similarities in our lives, perhaps I should pick up a brush again. I actually think I will.