Description of the picture:
Evening on Karl Johan Street – Edward Munch. 1892. Oil on canvas. 84.5 x eleven cm
The presented picture is part of the big cycle of Edward Munch – “The Frieze of Life: A Poem about Love, Life and Death”, and is included, along with “Scream”, in the group of paintings “Fear of Life”.
The canvas carries a lot of philosophical messages expressed on behalf of the author himself. It’s as if it’s not a face at all, but a mask. One of the eminent art critics, Arne Egtum, even compared the face masks of the heroes of Munch with the face masks from the paintings of the artist James Ensor. Usually Munch gave emotional names to paintings with a similar plot, but this time he limited himself to detailing the place where his mini-story about a lone hero and a soulless crowd – “Evening on Karl Johan Street” unfolds.
The audience, measuredly moving towards a mysterious figure, looks very bourgeois – neat hats, tall top hats, fashionable outfits and raincoats. The author presented us this dignified, at first glance, public in the form of a meaningless and thoughtless crowd. The faces of people are pale and devoid of any emotions. It is he, Munk, presented in the form of a thin dark silhouette, lonely wanders towards the crowd, towards empty faces, soulless people. The theme of loneliness, disunity is presented in the work very sharply and emotionally. How often is it for Munch, the characters “go” to the viewer, the focus is shifted to the lower left corner of the canvas, and in the plot there is a long road surrounded by houses and going to the horizon.
The street dedicated to King Charles XIV Johan is the main thoroughfare of the city of Oslo, and most likely, the author refers his viewer to his other work, “Spring on Karl Johan Street”. These works are sharply opposed to each other. “Spring” is made under the influence of impressionism and is distinguished by major tones, while “Evening” raises Munch’s favorite themes – loneliness, anxiety, and misunderstanding.
Munch’s fate can hardly be called a happy story – the death of loved ones, extreme sensitivity, failures on the love front and, finally, an ambiguous assessment of his work during his lifetime, because many critics openly scolded the painter, accusing the work of incompleteness, incompleteness.
Looking at the presented work, one can very clearly feel how lonely the author was, since so piercing canvases came out from under his brush. Munch even decided to duplicate the plot – he created a lithography based on a previously painted picture. Today, the expressive canvas is quite replicated, but the original is exhibited in the city of Bergen.