Norwegian painter and graphic artist, a major influence on expressionism. His highly charged paintings, characterized by strong colours and distorted forms, often focus on intense emotional states, as in one of his best-known works The Scream (1893). His works brought a new urgency and power to the two themes that dominated late 19th-century decadence, death and sexuality.
He studied in Paris and Berlin, and his major works date from the period 1892–1908, when he lived mainly in Germany. Influenced first by the Symbolists and then by van Gogh and Gauguin, he soon developed his own expressive style, reducing his compositions to broad areas of strong colour with sinuous contours emphasized by heavy brushstrokes, distorting faces and figures. His first show in Berlin 1892 made a great impact on young German artists. The Frieze of Life 1890s, a sequence of symbolic paintings, includes some of his most characteristic images.
In 1908 he suffered a nervous breakdown and returned to Norway. Later works include a series of murals 1910–15 in the assembly halls of Oslo University.
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