By: Julia Somme

What do Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Henri Matisse, three major European artists, have in common? They were all influenced by the Norwegian post-impressionist painter, Edvard Munch, who worked between the 1880s and the 1940s (1) . Munch painted the famous (and very widely known) The Scream work in 1893 and it would later become a major influence to those who created art across the world. Various artists gained inspiration from Munch, whether it was from his style of painting (mainly his brushstrokes and his application of paint), his abstracted forms, or his emotional take on life as a whole. Munch, who was born in 1863, did not have a great early life in any way, shape or form. Munch’s mother passed
Anxiety - Edvard Munch (1894)
Anxiety - Edvard Munch (1894)
away in 1868 from tuberculosis and he, along with his siblings, were raised by his mentally ill father (1). Since his father was mentally ill, how his father treated him and his siblings would eventually impact how his works appeared in nature. A few decades later, in 1885, Munch traveled to Paris and was influenced by the Impressionist artists around during that time (1). In 1908, while still in Paris, Munch had a major mental breakdown and would be admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Copenhagen (2). During his stay in the hospital, he would create Alpha and Omega, a series of lithographs that would illustrate his feelings toward his friends and enemies (2). Munch would continue to work in Norway, creating various works depicting the normal lives of farmers and landscapes, until he passed away at the age of 80 in Ekely, a small town outside of Oslo, Norway (2).
The Scream - Edvard Munch (1893)
The Scream - Edvard Munch (1893)

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Some of Munch’s works dealt with his mental issues, due to his very emotionally impacting childhood, but most of his works were influenced by his surroundings in nature, especially his works he created when he arrived back to Norway. His color use in all of his works, especially in The Scream, hold some type of meaning to him. The cool colors in the landscape possibly represent his sadness and depression, along with the possibility that nature has left him alone, sick, and depressed (3). The warm colors in the sky represent the agony of the figure in the foreground during this moment in time (3). This distorted form of this work creates more focus on the emotional aspect than on the artistic aspect, along with the direct focal point. The focal point of this work is the pale face with dark eyes, creating a stark contrast between the cool landscape (3). Many artists in Europe drew inspiration from Munch from his use of color and abstracted forms.

One artist that was inspired by Munch greatly was Paul Klee. Klee was an artist of German descent, born in 1879. Klee was a major part of the Expressionism and Bauhaus movements during his lifetime and after death (4). His works are mainly described as having a fantastic, childlike, and witty aesthetic to them, serving as an inspiration to the New York School. In 1911, he joined the Der Blaue Reiter group along with Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, and August Macke, now introducing him to the contemporary developments of modern art (4). His use of color in his works was drastically changed by a trip to Tunisia in 1914 and he created works based on landscape watercolors he created while in Tunisia (4). He and Munch are very similar not only in color choices, but in their expression of synesthesia in their works. Munch saw colors as sounds (or sounds as colors) and Klee saw music as distinct images or patterns, for music had a very
Abstract Trio - Paul Klee (1923)
Abstract Trio - Paul Klee (1923)
large impact on his early life; he played the
violin as a child (5). Klee’s use of bright color came from inspiration of Munch’s use of intense color and his life changing trip alike. Klee for
Castle and Sun - Paul Klee (1928)
Castle and Sun - Paul Klee (1928)
sure was influenced by many other artists during this time period, but he was more greatly impacted by Munch than most artists in the Post-Impressionist era. Klee was not the only European artist influenced by Munch in some way or another.

Henri Matisse, who was part of the Fauvism, Draftsman, and Collagist movements, was born in 1869 in Picardy, France (6). Matisse started to create art after leaving an occupation in law and isolating himself in his home in order to express himself differently (6). During that time, he experimented with bright colors in his works, as he was highly influenced by those in the
Dance (II) - Henri Matisse (1910)
Dance (II) - Henri Matisse (1910)
Post-Impressionist movement, especially Munch. Matisse also enjoyed using abstracted forms in his works, especially in his works displaying the movement of the human figure. He does not care about making his forms the most hyper realistic that he can: he would much rather convey the meaning of the work than make it look very beautiful, even though his works are beautiful in a different sense. He uses solid colors with little to no shading in most of his works throughout the years, just like Munch did in all of his works. His painting, Goldfish, is an example of where he uses some minimal gradients in color in his work in order to give it dimension. The lack of realistic shading in most of his works make the figures much more imagined than
Goldfish - Henri Matisse (1912)
Goldfish - Henri Matisse (1912)
real. How Matisse poses the figures also shows his ideas of
the human anatomy. Munch, on the other hand, has somewhat realistic figures, but there is a part of most of his figures that are rather imagined. The upside-down, pear shaped head on the figure in The Scream is a great example of his imagined ideals of how the body works. Matisse makes the bodies in his works bend and contort in almost very inhuman ways; an aspect that draws viewers to his works. Once again, Henri Matisse was not the only major European artist that was influenced by Edvard Munch in many different art movements.

Wassily Kandinsky was a Russian artist who was born in 1866. He mainly used his art as his way to explore the symbiotic relationship between color and form in order to invoke emotions, both positive and negative, from the public that involved sight and sounds specifically (7). Kandinsky was a major influence in the Bauhaus and Abstract Expressionist movements, espeically after World War II (7). Between 1903 and 1909, he traveled throughout northern Africa with other artists and formulated his own style based on the various artistic influences he bore witness to in different countries (7). In 1911, he co-founded the Der Blaue Reiter group with Franz Marc as the other founder (which Paul Klee would join later) in response to one of his paintings being rejected from the annual NKVM exhibition in Munich, Germany (7). During this time, Kandinsky believed that the artist as a human was a being that communicated through and was affected by line, color, and composition. He would then expand his works into non objective painting in
Moscow (I) Red Square - Wassily Kandinsky (1916)
Moscow (I) Red Square - Wassily Kandinsky (1916)
order to develop his idea further (7). He also believed that painting was a spiritual event for himself and he sought to convey profound spirituality and the depth of human emotion through abstract forms and colors (7). Kandinsky was known for using very bold, bright, and solid colors, just like Munch, in all of his works, no matter if the work involved definite shapes or completely organic ones. He also uses more than one type of medium in a work: he is known for using oil, watercolor, gouache, tempera, and some mixtures of all of the mediums together in most of his works (8). Munch,
Squares with Concentric Circles - Wassily Kandinsky (1913)
Squares with Concentric Circles - Wassily Kandinsky (1913)
especially in The Scream used more than one medium in a work, as well. Munch had used tempera, oil and pastel in order to create the famous work. The multimedia creation of the work creates a look that not many artists have taken a hold of before, besides Munch. The look is a very bold one, for there is little to no shading and if there is, it is very minimal in appearance. Kandinsky took inspiration from even the smallest parts of Munch's styles and ideas and that is clearly shown in his works.

Edvard Munch was by far one of the most influential artists during the 20th century, especially in the Symbolist, Expressionist, Fauvist, and Surrealist movements that came after him (1). Most of the artists in this time period used bright colors with very imagined forms and objects, just like Klee, Matisse, and Kandinsky use in their various works. Not only do these artists use bold colors and imagined figures in their works, they also have hints of synesthesia scattered throughout their works, as shown in their choices in colors and shapes. Klee and Munch are the only ones that have been mentioned to possibly have synesthesia, but it is not to say that the other artists mentioned might have had synesthesia, as well. Even though synesthesia could have been a possible influence for all of these artists, Munch's revolutionary way of expressing himself in a surprisingly different manner than his peers at the time was indeed the most major influence on the artists working in the later eras of art. If Munch did not create art when he did, or if he never created art as a way to express his emotions at all, the works of these three major artists --and many others-- may have appeared very differently in museums across the world today. The use of color, line, and form in these works might not have been as pronounced as they are now, there may have been less Expressionistic ideas to inspire these later eras of art, and some later art movements might not have been created as a result of Munch not creating art. Without the influence of Munch in the art world, the ever changing forms of art would have been extremely different in the years following this artist.

Works Cited
1.http://www.edvardmunch.org/
2.http://www.theartstory.org/artist-munch-edvard.htm
3.https://screamforcoke.wordpress.com/scream/
4.http://www.theartstory.org/artist-klee-paul.htm
5.http://www.doctorhugo.org/synaesthesia/art/
6.http://www.theartstory.org/artist-matisse-henri.htm
7.http://www.theartstory.org/artist-kandinsky-wassily.htm
8.https://www.guggenheim.org/conservation/vasily-kandinsky-research-project