Landscapes of the Mind
Mod slutningen af 1800-tallet bliver billedkunsten gradvis mere subjektiv både i form og indhold.
Tight vertical lines, the trees and the moon, cross more organic horisontal lines that divide the picture surface into simple, stylised colour spaces. In Munch's Moonlight we still recognise the painting as a landscape, but we have moved further away from a realistic depiction and into the artist's own personal interpretation of what is seen. The landscape becomes as much, or perhaps even primarily, an image of the artist's personal inner landscape.
A series of the Nordic artists moved beyond the realistic limitations of the evocative landscape in order to express feelings and personal crises. Often it is the case that the painter works through the experience of nature in his imagination in order to express his state of mind. This happens through the use of strong colours, intense brushstrokes, and symbolic and ambiguous shapes.
"The water lay blue-violet over an even and quiet surface - almost at one with the sky in the horizon. The rocks rose above the shallow water way out. They looked like an entire family of merpeople, little and large, they moved and stretched and made faces, but quietly. One could see a bit of the moon, yellow and big... Far, far away - the soft line where the sky meets the sea - it is incomprehensible like death – eternal like longing. Down here by the beach I think that I find an image of myself - of my life..."
Painter Edvard Munch, 1889
“A landscape seen in the mind’s eye and painted from there requires a physical landscape as a sort of ”springboard”, and for that reason, an inner landscape is not always easily distinguishable from an evocative landscape. In fact, the boundary between these two groups of works is often uncertain at best.”
Art historian, Leena Ahtola-Moorhouse, 2006
“The art of Munch encapsulates graphically the existential soul-searching of the North, which we find in the writings of a Kierkegaard, an Ibsen, or a Strindberg in literature”
Art historian, Philip Conisbee, 2006