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  • Edvard Munch
    Dec 12, 1863 - Jan 23, 1944
  • Snow Falling in the Lane - Edvard Munch was a Norwegian Symbolist painter, printmaker and an important forerunner of expressionistic art. His best-known composition, The Scream, is part of a series The Frieze of Life, in which Munch explored the themes of life, love, fear, death, and melancholia. His work often included the symbolic portrayal of such themes as misery, sickness, and death.
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Snow Falling in the Lane
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  • Snow Falling in the Lane

  • Edvard Munch
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  • Avenue in the Snow

    Oil on canvas
    80 x 100 cm
    Munch-museet, Oslo, Norway.

    If Tate’s not-very-good Munch exhibition earlier this year had one positive effect it was to puncture the widely held perception that every last brush stroke of the Norwegian painter’s oeuvre is an expression of manic depression and Nordic angst. The artist’s mental problems were probably alcohol-induced rather than innate, and there’s no documentary evidence that Snow Falling in the Lane, 1906, is anything other than a representation of two figures out for a winter walk. Yet it's impossible to look at this marvellous painting with its swirling forms and muted, deceptively pretty colours without feeling a slight sense of unease.
    As in The Scream, the looping brush marks can be seen as representing the turmoil of the artist’s mind signifying a world that is out of control, where mental phenomena and physical forms are merging and bleeding into each other. Or they might be interpreted simply as a stylistic hangover from the influence of Art Nouveau. The greyish violet sky, darker than the glowing ground – the sort of light effect that creates a sense of wonder and expectation, certainly in the British mind – could represent a suffocating closing-in. And those faceless figures, abruptly truncated at the bottom of the painting, are they people known to the artist – children perhaps? (and certainly the informal title suggests an environment with which Munch is intimately familiar). Or are they anonymous manifestations of his paranoia?

    There is no reason, of course, why there should be clear-cut answers to any of these questions. This is a painting, not a short story. It exists beyond narrative. So let’s for the benefit of this festive moment say simply that this is a wonderfully spontaneous work in which every mark conveys a simultaneous sense of nature static under its carpet of gathering white and nature caught in a continual existential flux. The balance of colours is exquisite, and the snowflakes, plastered onto the surface in thick gobbets of paint add an extra spatial dimension. The beauty of Snow Falling in the Lane isn’t an easy one, and that generally is for the best.

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Other paintings by Edvard Munch:

Uninvited Guests
Uninvited Guests
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Spring Plowing
Spring Plowing
Starry Night
Starry Night
Edvard Munch1863-1944. The Norwegian artist Edvard Munch is regarded as a pioneer in the Expressionist movement in modern painting. At an early stage Munch was recognized in Germany and central Europe as one of the creators of a new epoch. His star is still on the ascendant in the other European countries, and in the rest of the world. Munch's art from the 1890s is the most well known, but his later work is steadily attracting greater attention, and it appears to inspire present-day artists in particular. Often called the father of Expressionism, the Norwegian painter suffered as a child with illness, loss, and psychological terror, emotions that characterize many early images. He chose painting as his life's work at a young age and traveled throughout Europe, especially to Paris, where he absorbed the influences of Impressionism, then Post-Impressionism, and Art Nouveau design. While in Berlin, he joined a circle of writers and artists that included playwrights Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg, who became friends and collaborators. Just as his Scandinavian colleagues, Munch unflinchingly brought the darker side of the human experience to his art.